NEW YORK — Subway plans to reinforce the meaning of its "Eat Fresh" slogan by removing all artificial ingredients, including flavors, colors and preservatives, from its menu in North America by 2017, according to an Associated Press report.
Ingredient improvement has been an ongoing process for the chain over the years, Elizabeth Stewart, Subway's director of corporate social responsibility, told the AP. Recent efforts include removing caramel color from meats such as roast beef and ham, and scheduling the replacement of turkey preservative proprionic acid with vinegar by the end of 2015.
Subway is also switching to banana peppers colored with turmeric instead of the artificial dye Yellow No. 5, and working on its sauces and cookies.
The move may help Subway live up to evolving definitions of healthy, as people don't necessarily see it as the healthiest or best product, according to Technomic analyst Darren Tristano.
"Change has come so fast and rapidly, consumers are just expecting more and more," Tristano said.
Subway Chief Marketing Officer Tony Pace noted that while Subway is viewed as a place for low-fat options, it must keep up with changing customer attitudes.
"As their expectations go up, we have to meet those expectations," Pace said.
He noted that while using simple ingredients is becoming a "necessary condition" to satisfy customers, that alone is not enough to increase sales.