I’d like to respond to a request on Twitter for me to delete a Tweet regarding food safety. I respond via my blog, as I want to avoid posting 50 million Tweets to explain.
The thread is about food donation via apps. It’s a great way to safe food from being wasted. It’s an increasing way in many countries to tackle the food waste crisis, and it’s really amazing to see this trend grow.
Something caught my eye in the top right photo which I mentioned in the Tweet.
On the top right photo (by @Laurahodges_) are cups of soups. I mentioned about Pret not giving out hot food due to health and safety reasons with the temperatures.
I was informed that as of recently Pret does give out hot food, as long as it is picked up within a 2 hour window.
I explain further below, underneath the Tweet screenshots:
The “shocking” response is about the daily food waste in plastic to landfill that I posted about in Pret A Manger Food Waste. The daily food waste to landfill is a reality that Pret wants to sweep under the carpet.
Just some of the photos and Tweets from customers, the problem is much larger as I had to waste for years, as well as Amy Sharpe, a reporter who went undercover into Pret after reading my blog and my suggestion to go undercover to see for herself:
The Sunday Mirror photo
September 2019, Chicago
A recent staff review, also from Chicago, on daily food waste:
The above are only a few of the photos customers post on social media.
Further in the food donation thread from today:
So, here’s the back-story.
I am being asked to remove a Tweet as this won’t look good on whatever is being portrayed to the public in regards to food safety.
I worked for TEN years in Pret, and for most of these 10 years I was a Front of House Team Leader (Floor Leader – FL), which in Pret is like a mini-manager. Team Leaders do the most work and get the blame for anything Managers don’t want to take responsibility for. Health and safety is one of THE responsibilities of Team Leaders. I took that very serious and was known for throwing out products that where of low quality or “off” as instructed by company standards. I was not a favourite of my bosses as I followed instructions while still helping to bring profit.
So, Managers were always in a pickle with me. For one, I did my job extremely well, even under difficult circumstances and in bereavement, helping to raise the profit in each shop I worked at. BUT I also followed standards and didn’t bow to pressure to do dodgy things to avoid waste.
One such incident was when I helped out in a shop that failed in health and safety, having to bring the shop back up to standard. As I was the Team Leader in charge of this shop one Friday evening closing shift, this shop was closed during the weekends. A Team Member was cleaning and closing the kitchen including washing the vegetable for the next business day’s production. Pret has the procedure that once the vegetables are washed with the chlorine solution, it should be used within 2 business days from THE DAY the veg is washed. So, if I wash vegetables today 12th Oct. 2019, the expiry date should be tomorrow 13th October at the end of that business day! In the case of Friday, the veg should be used or discarded on Saturday.
Most shops wash the veg towards closing time at about 5pm, and most if not all veg is used the next day. So, all is in the green. Part of my job as a Team Leader was to sign off the “product labels” for the ingredients. The person who closed the kitchen prepared the label for me to sign AFTER he washed the veg. But I couldn’t sign for the label as the shop was closed over the weekend, meaning the 2 days would be passed by Saturday closing time, and Monday would be the FOURTH day, with the veg being soggy.
I called the Operations Manager (OPs – area manager) as all Managers were in the big quarterly meeting and informed her that I need to waste all the veg as I cannot transfer it out to other 7 day (Mon – Sun) shops, without any vehicle and no Managers around to agree to take the veg for Saturday’s production. The OPs via text just said to me after I asked if I should throw the veg out, she just said: “Do what you know is right”. She tried to get herself out of responsibility by neither telling me to do the right thing by wasting, nor to do the wrong thing to keep the veg.
So, I did what I knew was right according to what I was taught and wasted numerous kilograms of vegetable!
A few days later I saw an email between that OPs and the Food Safety team, sending the email to the area of shops, asking if I did the right thing. I kept the email for my protection, which said that I DID the right thing, as I was constantly being targeted for every little thing to get me to fail (I explain in the audio player at the bottom).
The OPs being insecure, if what I did was right, as it cost a lot of money, asked for confirmation with HQ. And it seems that I again was the only one who followed procedure, whereas most shops extend and stretch products to avoid waste and not be in a clinch with management. And the procedure was changed then for a Team Member to come in earlier on Mondays to wash vegetables.
The Email between the OPs and HQ Food Team (I smudged out the names):
What Managers did then, they kept me as the Team Leader doing all the hard work, but never promoted me, as I didn’t want to do the short cuts for their bonus. It’s an open secret that Managers subtly coerce Team Leaders into doing wrong things like stretching products etc. And if getting caught, the Manager is off the hook, and the Team Leader gets fired as they can never prove that the Manager coerced them manipulatively to do dodgy things. And at the same time, Team Leaders should refuse to do short cuts, even if it means they’re never promoted. If a Team Leader does the dodgy things and never gets caught, they are promoted as they do everything requested of them. It always had this little “Mafia” or gang feel to it.
I worked in a dozen Pret shops that were my main shops, and worked in even more stores, helping out for a day or a week. I closed many, many shops for many years! Regarding food waste, when the charity pick-up did not happen or we had no manpower and time to apply the allergen labels for charity; when pick-up did happen, the instruction was always to NOT give out hot food as well as no sushi (raw fish / rice), when Pret stocked sushi. Basically, any high risk foods were to be wasted.
For 10 years, I and my Teams and my Team Leader colleagues were instructed to NOT give out hot food to charity or anyone picking up the food for charity / homeless people.
The reason we were explained is, that due to the temperature fluctuation, the food can go off quicker and wouldn’t be safe for people to eat.
Hot food in Pret is kept (or rather is “supposed” to be kept!) for 2 hours in the hot cabinet. This is for quality purpose as the food becomes dry, stale and hard after 2 hours, as well as not being as hot anymore. But due to under-staffing and pressure to have products on the shelves, staff cheat and “stretch” the hours by marking on the lid an hour or two hours longer. But the food is still in the HOT cabinet.
In this below Tweet from Pret it’s very clearly marked. In this case the porridge lid has 10 o’clock marked, meaning the porridge was prepared at 8am and then marked for 2 hours. But at times a staff member marks a new lid to let’s say 11am or noon, and replaces it, throwing away the earlier lid. This they do if they ran out of porridge/soup etc. to keep products for the Mystery Shopper bonus and to minimize waste.
Hot food being given out AFTER the 2 hour HOT cabinet storage fluctuates the temperature, and this is when it can become tricky with health and safety. The main thing that can happen to people eating a luke-warm or cold soup after it being heated (or rather RE-heated) is they get, in plain language, diarrhea. For a homeless person on the streets, this wouldn’t be very pleasant.
I want to mention as well that the hot food, particularly the soups are re-heated at least once. Pret soups are produced in factories and come ready cooked in bags to the shops. In the shops the bags are then re-heated in water-baths or if in a hurry put into the microwave. This is then the second time the soups are heated. There is NO cooking in pots and pans in Pret kitchens! Sometimes, due to lack of time, lack of staff and lack of soup products, the soups are even heated a THIRD time, even though staff are not allowed to do this!
For example, if a soup bag is still sitting in the hot water-bath unopened at the end of the business day, staff are supposed to WASTE the bag which holds 6 cups of soup. But due to the Manager always pressing to minimize waste for his/her bonus, staff cheat and let the bag cool down and store it back in the fridge for the next day to be heated up AGAIN.
They are not allowed to do this, but it’s an open secret that this keeps happening and it’s only a point of not getting caught. So, potentially soups are heated three times, but for sure always two times. Plus, if a person gets a soup or other hot product from the charity run, they may heat it up as well, for sure for the third time and maybe even fourth time!
Thus, if a person eating the soup gets any health issues, they can never trace back what happened or if the hot food was re-heated multiple times etc. I often got the “evil eye” from my bosses when I threw out unopened soup bags that were left-over in the water bath as I 1. didn’t want any health and safety issues for customers and staff, and 2. it wasn’t worth losing my job for Manager’s bonus by decreasing waste in a dodgy way.
And just today I saw a Tweet to a video of how Panera Bread heats their Mac & Cheese. Panera Bread is also owned by JAB Holdings that bought Pret last year. But this is exactly how the water-baths look like in Pret:
One recent review also states clearly that food is not fresh and comes in ready cooked from factories:
Link (Glassdoor incrasingly wants people to log in to see reviews that’s why I do screenshots).
So, I’m being asked to delete a Tweet, as it is supposedly false information. I speak from 10 years in Pret, having seen and witness countless times how food is handled and mishandled! The new “training” Laura Hodges has received may be due to the list of food waste that I’ve posted and that has outraged many people. I know how Pret works, I know their tricks, traps and ways in fooling the public.
My own story I share in below audio player in an interview on a podcast based in California.
I will not delete my Tweet and Ms. Hodges has already re-posted. I will not be silent and hush about what is going on behind the shiny PR[et] facade on various of issues. TWO Pret customers have died, a third nearly fatal incident and numerous ignored warnings on allergen labelling by Pret. I will not be silent nor delete. I also posted about the ongoing issues of mislabelling in Pret: >>> When Vegetarians Eat Ham
Ms. Hodges can feel free to block me. I have no concern about being blocked or reported.
The main issue I write about regarding Pret is the toxic work environment for profit. I almost lost my life and continue to ask for independent investigation into Pret staff suicides.
So, MS. Hodges can do with this what she likes, but I will always speak out after TWO customers have died (while I worked at Pret responsible for health and safety, never being told about it!). And Pret only started acting when deaths became public. I will also continue to write from a behind the scenes perspective on staff treatment and the forced happiness staff have to portray for Mystery Shopper cash incentives and to avoid fear management.
Clive Schlee, now former CEO of Pret “retired” with poor scores on Glassdoor & Co. for a reason while remaining as a non-executive Director in the background:
New CEO, Pano Christou:
Glassdoor Review: “Worked into the ground without empathy”:
Incomplete list of questions weekly Mystery Shoppers are tasked to test staff on, no matter how staff feel, if bereaved, depressed, even suicidal:
I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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