Pret A Manger also “Stretches” Dates

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Today’s The Times and later Daily Mail articles on Caffè Nero stretching dates.

The Times article: “Caffè Nero staff fiddled food date labels

Daily Mail article: “Caffè Nero staff reveal they switch sell-by dates to make gone-off food appear fresh

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Here’s my take on Nero and Pret stretching dates which is a huge problem. The press and mainstream media in general know my blog and story with Pret but love to ignore it. I can only implore any journalist again and again to go undercover into Pret, but not only working in the afternoon/evening, but also in the morning in the kitchen and shop for at least 4 weeks to get a good glimpse.

Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror contacted me shortly after the deaths of Pret customers became public as she found my blog. At the time I was still extremely traumatized and paranoid that Pret sent a “spy” again, so I asked Amy to go undercover into Pret and see for herself. Unfortunately she only went for a week and worked in the shop in the evenings. But new staff who work in the evening are not bothered by Managers and Team Leaders and they don’t see the cheating that’s going on. Amy did a good start, but for a thorough investigation a Journalist would need to go undercover for at least a month and work in both kitchen and shop in the mornings to experience the full Pret blow and catch cheating going on.

Amy Sharpe’s report with my comments: “Undercover Under Pressure in Pret

I worked at both Caffè Nero and Pret. In Nero, mostly the cakes are being “stretched” as the Sandwiches, Paninis etc. come with a date label from the factory.

The cakes come in frozen and take about 4 hours to defrost. I often just defrosted half a cake first thing in the morning for it to be ready for the afternoon, instead of the full cake to avoid wastage. My Managers always defrosted the whole cake to safe time, but then days later “stretched” the dates. Managers mostly worked in the morning, but me working in the afternoon closing the shops had to hear the constant complaints by customers that the cakes were too dry.

I never stretched the dates as it was not worth losing my job if caught. One afternoon before my Manager left their shift, knowing that I did not stretch the dates for their bonus, the Manger herself stretched the cake dates with the date gun (same device where products are priced with labels). When she left her shift, I took the date gun and reversed the stretch back to its original expiry date, and wasted any cakes that expired.

Needless to say, I was never promoted.

Same with Pret. The labelling of products works differently. Pret use “product labels”. It used to be sticky labels that were hand written, but since 2017 Pret implemented date labelling machines in kitchens (while at the time AFTER a customer died not implementing labelling for products in shops to save lives!). I write about the date labelling machines extensively on: “Pret’s Labelling Comittment?

Either way, if handwritten or via machine, the principle is when a Team Member opens, let’s say a tub of Crayfish today 06.03.2021 and the factory expiry date is let’s say in 6 days 12.03.2021, the NEW expiry date for the opened Crayfish is 2 days from today on (today being day 1, tomorrow being day 2). So, by tomorrow the Crayfish has to be used in products to sell or has to be transferred (sold) to another Pret shop near-by that may need extra Crayfish THAT day. Or by the end of tomorrow’s business-day the Crayfish has to be wasted.

The Staff Member writes down the Product:
Crayfish on the label, writes down the factory expiry date (12.03.21), today’s date (06.03.21), and then the NEW expiry date once opened (07.03.21). If done by the printing machine, the machine calculates the correct date with which it’s been programmed to print. Then the Staff Member is supposed to let a Team Leader or Manager double check the correctness of the date and sign (initial). Often for lack of time the Staff Member initials the label themselves. Again, when I was on shift I told the Team to NOT used my initials to sign a product label but do it properly and let ME initial MY name as my neck would be on the line!

The way Pret staff cheat is then when the product expires today from the NEW expiry date handwritten on the product label, but the factory date is let’s say in 2 days which cannot be fiddled with, because it’s printed on the tub or factory label, not able to be removed, the staff member then peels off the new Pret product label, writes or prints a new product label with another new date for the next 2 days. This is often repeated until the REAL factory expire date which cannot be extended.

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SIDENOTE:

After I published this blog post and tweeted to people incl. The Times and also The Daily Mirror, BOTH Times & Mirror hid my Tweets! No other Twitter user I tweeted to hid my Tweets about this blog entry. My website indeed is the Elephant in the room for the press who can’t handle own experience of a former Pret employee and true investigative journalism. I will post the hidden Tweets later, but check the following for now where another person can’t see my Tweet to the Times, they can only see my direct link to my Tweet, but not my Tweet within the Times feed:

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Link

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In 2019 a customer posted a Pret Crayfish product from a Paris Pret shop that is visibly off, and these are only some customers who post publicly, I didn’t even bother collecting Instagram, Facebook etc. One can see the gray part that shows that it’s off. Just looking at the photo made me feel sick (Ctrl & + to enlarge):

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Yes, this is against company policy, and anyone caught is immediately fired. Here comes the hairy but(t): Pret knows how stretched staff are, OPs Manager push and pressure Managers to the extend that Managers cheat. Most Managers don’t do the stretching of dates themselves but ask the Team Leader to do it. If they want to avoid to blatantly ask the Leader or Team Member to do it, they manipulate and fear manage them so that the Leader or Staff Member do it for fear of not getting promoted or get dis-favorable treatment. Most Managers let the Leaders and Team Members do the dirty work to avoid getting fired. Needless to say that I got never promoted and was known for wasting humongous amounts of food or drinks if they were unsafe due to warm fridges, expiration etc.

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One email that was sent by an OPs Manager to my area was because I wasted a huge amount of vegetable from a shop where I was sent to help out with their health and safety issues. It was a 5-day shop, closed on the weekends. On Friday the Team Member closing the kitchen was washing the vegetables which is normal in shops for the next morning to use. But the shelf life once washed is 2 days, meaning it would expire on the weekend. The TM came to me to initial the product label but I had to refuse. I called texted the OPs Manager that I needed to waste all the washed Veg.

On that day all OPs Managers, Shop Manager and Assistant Managers were in the Quarter Brief. Only Team Leaders and Team Members were in shops that afternoon. As I didn’t have a cart or vehicle to transfer all the vegetabes out to surrounding shops and the Team Leaders I called were unsure if they should take some of the veg. I wasted it all. When I texted the OPs Manager, she just passed the buck back to me and just said “do the right thing”, cowardly leaving me to make a decision. So, I did! I wasted dozen kilograms of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and onions!

The week following I saw an email come through by the OPs who double checked with the saftey team in HQ. The reason I kept this email was because I was in the middle of being targeted and bullied by another OPs Manager for the tiniest things. And I feared that they may target me again for wasting so much vegetable. This email I kept for my protection. Sad, but true.

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This shop was already under scrutiny by HQ for having very poor health and safety scores, so there was no way I would even dream of risking any issues. What’s so vile is that this OPs KNEW I did right! But she was looking via approval or disapproval from HQ to penalize me AFTER she put the responsibility on me for “do the right thing”! This incident then led to 5-day shops washing their veg. early morning on Mondays which also helped to be used on Tuesday. If you did the right thing you could prove that your shop can still be successful WITHOUT cheating. I worked in shops as a Team Leader helping to bring the shops to number 1, 2 etc. in Pret’s “Premier League” being top shop out of ALL 450+ shops in the company. It IS possible with organization, work and care.

I was not perfect, but I did the right thing and regret having given Pret years of time, skill, sweat, blood and tears, just to be bullied during bereavement etc.

Just a few of the many staff reviews about cheating and expired foods:

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MANAGER review:

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Or recently 2 customer complaints from 2 different shops within 1 week of berry compote with mould:

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Another customer complained of chicken that was off. Especially since lockdown and Pret losing money, the problem has increased:

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Etc. etc. etc. These are only few and those customers bother to go on Social Media with.

Some of the many staff reviews with an email by a current Pret shop staff I’ve put on YouTube as my blog is censored on Facebook and Instagram, I use YouTube and all other media to spread the word how Pret really is behind that “happy” facade:

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I worked at Pret A Manger 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 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.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.

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Thank you for reading/listening.

©2017 – Present: expret.org


Interview:

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©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

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