In his Six Rules for Eating Wisely, author Michael Pollan cautions against consuming foods that our great-great-great grandmothers wouldn’t recognize. However, that’s often easier said than done.

While a 2015 Nielsen survey indicates that an increasing number of Americans want fresh, natural, and minimally processed foods, Azodicarbonamide, also known as the yoga mat chemical, has been identified in almost 500 food products.

Still, the tides are turning as fast casual restaurants, fast food chains, and even multinationals are responding to pressure, especially from Millennials, for food made without artificial ingredients. Here are six leading food companies that are changing their ways for the better.

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1. Chipotle

In 2013, industry leader Chipotle became the first restaurant chain to indicate which items on their menu contained genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Today, the company is currently working on improving their tortilla to remove propionic and benzoic acid, two preservatives used to inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria.

RELATED: Chipotle's Tortillas Will Soon Be Preservative-Free and Full of Whole Grains

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2. Panera Bread

Similarly, by the end of 2016, bakery chain Panera Bread will eliminate all artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors, and flavors identified on their No No List. Some examples include nitrates and nitrites, titanium dioxide (used to add brightness to cheese), and aluminum potassium sulfate.

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3. Taco Bell

Faced with lagging sales, fast food chains are making changes to prevent falling further behind. Taco Bell will remove artificial preservatives and additives “where possible” by the end of 2017.

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4. McDonald's

McDonald’s has reduced the number of ingredients in its grilled chicken breast from 18 to 12.

RELATED: The Dark Side of McDonald's World-Famous Fries

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5. General Mills

Multinationals food producers are also following suit, with the leading cereal company General Mills planning to use fruit and vegetable juices instead of green and blue dyes in Trix.

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6. Kraft

Starting in 2016, Kraft macaroni and cheese eaters will see annatto seed and paprika extract replace Yellow No. 5 and 6.

As industry standards for transparency in the supply chain continue to evolve, consumers can consult the Environmental Working Group’s Food Scores database for information on nutrition, ingredient, and processing concerns in more than 80,000 foods.


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(Trix image by Roadsidepictures/Flickr. All other images by Mike Mozart/Flickr)