The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Papa John’s® Enzymes: 2017 Update

Posted on August 25, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Papa John's

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

An email forwarded to The VRG in August 2017 from online reader Ben had been delivered to his inbox from a “Nutrition Analyst” at Papa John’s in response to his Papa John’s online inquiry.

This is how Ben introduced the following Papa John’s information to us:

“I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian who has frequently visited your site, reading about information such as disambiguated food ingredients and specific food content from name-brand restaurants. I wish to donate information in the hopes of helping to update such regarding the Papa John’s pizza chain.”

Here in its entirety is the forwarded email from Papa John’s addressed to Ben in response to his “…inquiring whether or not their Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks were vegetarian (lacto-ovo).” Papa John’s responded to Ben within 12 hours of his inquiry.

Papa John’s email:

“The majority of our products contain bio-synthesized and/or vegetable-derived enzymes, including our mozzarella cheese.

However, the cheese blend used on our Tuscan Six Cheese Pizza does contain animal-derived enzymes.

Our pizza dough contains fungal or bacterial derivatives.

Our garlic sauce contains lactic acid, which is not classified as an animal derivative because it has been fermented.

Blue cheese and ranch DO contain animal-derived rennet.

The rennet that is used in the Papa John’s Parmesan cheese is a GMO-free microbial rennet. It is not animal-derived. It would be suitable for vegetarian consumption.”

The VRG appreciates Ben taking the time to forward this email.

It appears from the website that the breadsticks are made with pizza dough that does not contain L-cysteine (most often derived from poultry feathers). L-cysteine is not listed on the website menu nor on the allergen page.

Unlike many restaurant chains, Papa John’s includes “vegetable” as the source for their mono- and diglycerides in the ingredients list for the Garlic Parmesan Sauce. However, this chain does not specify if the “natural flavors” in this sauce are vegetable-derived. (They may or may not be.)

There is sugar in menu components which appear otherwise vegan (the original and pan doughs and the pizza and pan sauces but not the Garlic Parmesan Sauce).

Concerned readers may wish to contact Papa John’s for more information on whether the natural flavors are vegetable-derived and if the sugar had been processed using cow bone char.

See our previous reports on cheese enzymes and sugar for more information:

Here are a couple of our past reports on Papa John’s:

The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

For additional information about quick service chains, see:

For information about vegetarian and vegan restaurants and where you might be able to order vegan pizza, see:

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