HOUSTON -

 Big changes are coming to a chain of bakery cafes around the Houston area, Panera is swearing off all artificial ingredients as more people look to eat healthier.

Panera says it will remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from its food by 2016.

There are about 1,800 Panera locations across the country that will abide by the new "food policy pledge" that will be unveiled Tuesday.  The pledge outlines its commitment to "clean" and "simple" ingredients.

The announcement comes at a time when Panera Bread Co. is facing slowing sales growth and working to jump start its business.

It also underscores how positioning foods as natural has become a marketing advantage, regardless of whether it brings any nutritional benefits.