Panera Bread, a popular restaurant chain, has recently decided that it is going to start posting if sugar is added to its beverages that it sells. It appears that Panera is the first major restaurant chain to do so. Some of the beverages that it sells are substantially over the maximum recommendation for daily sugar consumption under the United States Dietary Guidelines. Panera decided to make some changes in some of their products and at the very least notify customers of what exactly they are putting in their bodies.
The question here is whether or not it is ethically wrong if a restaurant does not do this. Without it, consumers would have no idea about the added sugar that is not required to be on all food menus. Is it wrong for a restaurant to not have added sugar on their menu? It would not necessary be withholding information because customers have the right to ask about additional nutrition facts, but if they do not ask, is it wrong to not tell them?
Caveat Emptor means ‘let the buyer beware’. There are a lot of grey areas when it comes to sales, but in a perfect world all salespersons would enlighten buyers about everything they know about a product. An argument here is that it is impossible to know what a buyer already knows, it is impossible to tell someone every detail about a product (nor would there be enough time), and consumers can’t tell if a salesperson is telling them all that they personally know or feel about a product.
The solution is finding a mutually beneficial relationship between buyer and seller. For instance: consumers doing their research and sellers not lying to them. In Panera’s case, they took the initiative to make changes and tell consumers what they are consuming. They do not have to do that according to the current laws that they are required to abide by, yet they have decided to do it. To me, this is pure human being morality. Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera Bread, decided to make customers aware of the added sugar because he believes that it is the right thing to do as a business owner and human being. It would be a more truthful world if all businesses followed that path.