Imagine a pizza: a special blend of Italian herb seasonings cracked over a melted 6-cheese blend, topped with pepperoni and sausage then baked golden brown on fresh, never frozen dough.
Hungry yet? That’s the John’s Favorite. You can find the description on the Papa John’s website.
As delicious as the Papa John’s menu item sounds, the delivery pizza chain’s “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.” slogan is under fire, and I don’t mean in a brick oven.
Melanie Warner, an author and longtime food reporter, wanted to know the ingredients in a Papa John’s pizza. Though valid, her questions were ignored. That is, until she wrote an article describing her research for U.S. News & World Report
. (The author mentions a few other chains in passing, but she zeroes in on Papa John’s.)
In the piece, Warner explains that listing ingredients is a common practice for fast-food chains, even though it’s not required by law. Wondering whether the Papa John’s slogan was just a marketing front, Warner called and emailed the company’s customer service department, asking what exactly those “better ingredients” were. Her questions garnered no response.
“Public relations wasn’t much help either,” she added.
Papa John’s quickly took to Facebook and the article’s comments section. Here’s the response posted on Facebook:
There was an inaccurate article that ran earlier today, which was written about Papa John’s. The reporter who wrote the story unfortunately received misinformation – and we apologize for not being available when she reached out to us. Papa John’s dough is fresh, never frozen, and we ensure that our meats are void of fillers, and that our vegetables are fresh and of the highest quality possible. Details about our ingredients are always available online – please check out “Our Pizza Story” on our website, found here: http://bit.ly/1btlfim. Nutritional information also can be found on our website at http://order.papajohns.com/nutrition.html. Thanks to all for bringing this to our attention so that we have the opportunity to correct an inaccurate article.
As some commenters point out, the response only deflects Warner’s question. The links Papa John’s provides feature the same stock marketing copy and nutritional information. In the end, it never explicitly details any ingredients.
On Facebook, Papa John’s fans came out of the woodwork to defend their beloved pizza chain. If you’ve ever wanted to read thousands of comments argued over frozen and fresh dough, you’re in luck.
The squabble brings up questions of transparency in big fast-food companies, which is especially meaningful these days as consumers are increasingly meticulous about their food choices.
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“By not disclosing what’s in its food,” Warner wrote, “Papa John’s is revealing that it doesn’t think too much of its customers. When we do ask questions, they refuse to answer. At least that was my experience, both when I approached Papa John's as a journalist and a customer.”
What do you think? Is Papa John’s response good enough, or is it keeping secrets?