I did 3 podcast episodes explaining how Pret was and continues to be careless on their food safety, even after 2 customers died, a 3. narrowly surived and over a dozen got injured. Pret ignored all that until it got public.
And dispite “Natasha’s Law” in place, Pret continue to mislabel their food and even bring food overnight, not fresh, many customer pictures of food with mould and even rat droppings on.
ALL due to extreme understaffing, high pressure, poor training etc.
I mention a particular Barbigan Centre seminar Pret held AFTER Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, the first customer died. This is significant. I also talk about the difference between Starbucks and Pret CEOs actions in times of crisis. I explain how training in Pret is REALLY done and why Pret successfully was able to blame a low wage staff for another customer injury of Isobel Colnaghi who almost became the third fatality.
I also explain my role as a team leader which is one reason why I’m still shocked in how Pret ealt with this and the money power Pret had, but didn’t use.
Of course people say that I have an axe to grind, but that is not my concern. It is people’s choice to LISTEN to what experienced current and former staff explain, especially when they deliever it with EVIDENCE.
I don’t ask people to believe me if I don’t bring evidence. But I have plenty, that’s why I link to them.
I may do an updated episode with all 3 combined in less time. This the first time I did a podcast and just spoke from the gut. But I try to redo those with notes into 1 episode and in much less time. I’m not a professional, please bear with my simple talk.
But I give a lot of info from behind the scenes.
Below, under these episodes are links to the mouldy food and mislabelling issues.
The first customer who died, 15 year old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse of sesame hidden in the dough of the baguette which wasn’t labelled on the packaging nor the fridge label. Her parents’ campaigning brought “Natasha’s Law” where all food businesses must label packaged food now.
The second customer was 42 year old mother of five Celia Marsh who died in Bath from dairy traces in a vegan wrap. Isobel Colnaghi who almost died also of hidden sesame, lost her case against Pret.
So, the unsafe food practices continue, even worse now. See pictures of mouldy food via below links. And due to the ongoing mislabelling, Pret are now breaking “Natasha’s Law”. A new inquest into Celia Marsh’s death will start in October 2022.
All this is due to ONE reason: understaffing, stressing and exploiting staff to the max. CEO Pano Christou doesn’t care. He lives in La La Land and has never been a leader, even when he was UK Managing Director and former CEO Clive Schlee’s shadow.
He enjoys the money, his mansion, working from home etc. while exhausting his staff. He cut wages, benefits, even the paid break. Most work 10 hours through without a break due t high staff turnover and unreasonable pressure.
Then Pano had the audacity TWICE this year to delay paying staff under dodgy excuses. The second time cleverly using the Queen’s Jubilee bank holiday weekend, knowing the public would be distracted if the press would get wind of it.
The press DID get wind of it because I was contacted by staff in despair as I write publicly and pass leaked info on to the press. I emailed CEO Pano Christou directly, openly copying in the press, including Sarah Butler from The Guardian who a day later reported on it.
She started to dig depper and also reported recently that Pano received a pay-rise and millions in bonus in 2021 after he made temporary pay cuts permanent.
So, needless to say staff are p!ssed off, they are already on the fringes of existance, carried Pret through the pandemic, risking their lives. Some got sick I was told, but were pressured to keep working or lose their jobs.
I’m still hoping there’s an undercover journalist in Pret for at least a month.
Some staff on social media announced to be sabotaging Pret now (see screenshot below). Many call sick as an internal strike action. All of this contributes to unsafe food handling, stale, expired food, mislabelling, exhausted staff etc. etc. etc.
Pret got away with 2 customer deaths and multiple injuries, so they feel invincible and the lack of food safety has gotten much, much worse iin broad daylight.
Writing to journalists and the government food safety people didn’t help yet. How many people have to die? A small independent, and especially minority business would have been shut down and the owners sent to prison if one customer had died. Pret is protected and safe in this Tory government of corrupt politicians.
Staff on Instagram in June when Pret for the 2. time delayed pay:
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. Thank you for reading/listening.
And many, many more. Pret also always want people to DM to lure their data from them for future marketing, and then make it hard to unsubscribe from emails.
Some products Pret have ALWAYS for years prepared the day before, NOT “freshly made”, like the honey yoghurt, birchler muesli and berry yoghurt pots/bowls. A team member closing/cleaning the kitchen in the afternoon would also prepare the berry bowls with yoghrurt into the plastic bowls, put clingfilm over it and place into the fridge overnight. The next morning a team member would just put the granola on top. The granola wouldn’t be put on the night before as it would be soggy by the next morning. Bottom line, the berry or honey is already in the bowl with the yoghurt the day before sales. NOT “freshly prepared”. This is why sometimes there is a watery texture in the honey pot as the yoghurt “separates” from the honey over night.
And Pret now prepare many other items the day or days before, as seen below.
Any food issues, food poisoning, pest issues and now mislabelling can be reported directly to the government via:
Upfront to any regular customer in Pret who SEES how Pret UNDERSTAFF shops even before the pandemic (1 person on coffee, 2-3 on tills in the morning, queue out the door, 3-4 people in the kitchen etc.) where staff are BURNT OUT. Many shops now open later and close earlier than advertised, due to many staff leaving and whoever stays behind is left completely exhausted …. All this after Pret cut wages and CEO Pano Christou got a payrise and millions in bonus. HOW do you think these burnt-out and disheartened low-wage staff, who are forced to smile for bonus, can keep up with hygiene and health & safety practices? Not to mention correct labelling after 2 customers died and 20+ got injured that Pret all ignored before it got public? Tell me how?! And you STILL fall for the “freshly made” lie!
Before customers died and got injured, people were oblivious to Pret’s poor practices and TRUSTED Pret because former CEO Clive Schlee and current CEO Pano Christou and the executive team were successful for years to sweet-talk the public with their wholesome slogans. Now it’s not just more common knowledge how bad Pret really are, but with below EVIDENCE, you have NO reason to believe that Pret’s food is “freshly made” nor fresh! Pret and their enablers in the PR and business world repeat over and over and over and over again, like a cultish mantra, the lie of “fresh” and “freshly made” food to keep brainwashing the public.
If a company understaffs to maximize profit and treat their staff like the dirt on their feet, it WILL come back to customers and endanger people’s health and very lives. And food.gov.uk and the media close their eyes because I’m “just a disgruntled former employee with an axe to grind”. Well, you’ve been warned.
I write so blunt because I was a team leader responsible for health and safety, and I took that very seriously. And here are the Pret executive team having a laugh to the bank on the backs of workers and the health of customers. I speak about this extensively, how it REALLY works behind the scenes on my podcast.
Pret are known for their fairy-tale slogans, some which they removed now. Since I expose Pret from 2018 on, calling Pret out on their lies and fake slogans, they removed at least one that I know of and which has always gotten on my nerves.
Former CEO Clive Schlee was very good in fooling customers and staff alike. The slogan “Lovingly handmade in this shop today” was always a sore sight for me when I stocked up the fridges in Pret, seeing this bullsh!t, but experiencing every day that NOTHING is “lovingly” made, nor is it “made” but it’s just “assembled”. We staff were pushed and pressured to work at a high pace without being able to just breathe. I point out Pret’s systemic bullying culture. And since the pandemic it’s much much worse to regain profit!
Unrealistic targets are set on purpose that staff simply cannot fulfill the time given to assemble sandwiches. So, they’re manipulated and pressured to work extra time for free as they’re told they weren’t fast enough, while in reality they work at a super fast speed which results in neglecting health and safety, and hygiene issues.
On the “freshly made/prepared” brainwash, it’s Pret’s typical slogan where they applied psychology like all companies do, knowing how we humans think. It’s the same with the lie that Pret’s food is “natural” and Pret were then ordered to remove the word “natural” from all their marketing as their food is loaded with the “obscure chemicals” Pret claimed to not have.
You can safely say that 9 out of 10 times all the slogans on Pret’s walls and marketing is the complete opposite. It’s the same with the “happy” facade and all the smiles that are enforced by very strict weekly mystery shopper visits. If ONE staff member doesn’t smile, the whole team can get penalized by not getting bonus. More on Pret’s psychological abusive mystery shopper scheme with excerpts of mystery shopper reports via YouTube: Smile for the “Misery” Shopper.
As more and more customers wake up to the reality of Pret, many who started boycotting Pret when they learnt how Pret cut wages etc. My alltime favourite tweet regarding Pret is:
I couldn’t have said it any better after all the bullying, lies, brainwash from Pret.
Would you like some fleecy hair with your baguette?
Pret’s sign used to be: “Organic Coffee – Natural Food”. The sign was created in such a way that we in the Western world who read from left to right, and top down, that we read “organic food”. But Pret didn’t claim that the food is organic, just “natural”. And I question Pret’s claim to do organic coffee as their coffee is so cheap and Pret stopped doing fair-trade coffee since a few years now.
There are countless complaints since years on Pret’s coffee, at one point Pret was even named “worst coffee shop” as their coffee tastes like “charcoal”. I worked in many restaurants and coffee companies, Pret’s coffee beans are by far the most oiliest beans I’ve ever seen! I often got stomach cramps from the coffee that I switched to tea. And I love coffee!
Some of many complaints I summarized on YouTube:
After being told by the Advertising Standards Authority to remove the word “natural” from Pret’s marketing, Pret exchanged the slogan from “Organic Coffee – Natural Food” to “Organic Coffee – Freshly Made Food”.
Former Pret CEO Clive Schlee said in an interview that his wife would always say to him, »Any damn fool can run Pret«. Well, that seems obvious. And any damn fool can also ruin it.
So, we think that Pret’s food is fresh, but Pret never claims that, they claim that it is “freshly prepared”. But that’s also not always true as you will see in the below customer complaints and pictures of mouldy food. Pret now carry over sandwiches from previous day(s) while claiming to donate leftover food each night to charity with another of their slogan “made today, gone today”.
And even the food donation isn’t fully true, as a lot of food is wasted every day. I write about this in Pret’s Food Waste with pictures of food in the streets and my own experience of having had to waste countless large bin bags of food for many years.
Before I get to some of the many complaints on mouldy food, here just a few of many complaints on stale food from over a decade ago:
Pret also now freeze soups and other products. A former Pret staff already told me 2 years ago via Facebook messenger.
It is no surprise that Pret cannot be reached. Pret fired many, I’m sure the social media staff is also downsized. This soup sounds like it’s been re-heated 3-4 + times already. Again, keep in mind that Pret soups/porridge are cooked in factories and just re-heated in shops.
“Odd” tasting soup:
UPDATE Feb. 2023
It’s kind of weird that an Evening Standard journalist can’t find contact details for Pret. But maybe out of shock people incl. journos just at first want to call out Pret on social media, as many know that I have an eye on Pret issues:
Also, I have to find the DM and screenshot of another Pret staff who contacted me in 2021 with the following:
“Pret have started keeping their food overnight and selling it the next day. Considering they’ve built their entire brand on the Freshly Made slogan it’s very misleading. They’ve also slowly started removing all the freshly prepared signs from their stores hoping no one finds out.”
And for many pictures of mislabelling, as well as mixed up ingredients (dairy Bircher Muesli made with mayonnaise) even after TWO customers died and over 20 got injured which Pret all ignored until it got public, please see: Vegans and Vegetarians Eat Meat in Pret.
Freshly Prepared versus Fresh
You can simply “freshly prepare” a sandwich or salad with stale bread and mouldy cheese. It’s freshly prepared, but not fresh. And now, sandwiches etc. are carried over to the next day(s), so even the “freshly prepared” slogan isn’t always true and false advertising. That’s why I also advise for people to be careful with hot food like toasties where you won’t easily see when the cheese is mouldy or the bread stale. Once it’s heated up, ingredients just melt and stick into each other.
And soups in Pret are often reheated 3-4 times to save money on waste. If there’s a bag of soup left in the “marinator” (water-bath) at the end of the day, the staff are supposed to throw it away for safety reasons as the soup by that time will have been heated up for the 2. time (first cooked in the factory, then reheated in the shop).
But to save money, staff cheat under pressure from management, take the hot soup bag out of the marinator, let it cool down and then place it back in the kitchen fridge. The next day or two days after, it’s reheated for the 3. time, at times even repeated for the 4th time.
And now, since Pret want money after the pandemic losses, they even SELL cooled down hot food like soups, croissants etc. via the Too Good To Go app under Pret’s charity umbrella (tax breaks). Pret with the help of TGTG sell end of day food under the charity umbrella (tax breaks and brownie points with the public).
Before the pandemic, Pret had the STRICT rule for us NOT to give even for free hot food at the end of the day for safety reasons. Not they SELL it! This means, by the time a customer buys it for cheaper via the TGTG app, they will reheat the soup at home or in the office in the microwave for at least a 3rd time, often 4th or 5th time.
When I was a team leader handing out food to the charity volunteers who picked up food after closing time, I got in trouble by management for giving soups and other hot (cooled down) items to charity. Since getting told off, I then never gave any high risk food to charity, no matter how much they asked for it. I only gave them a hot item to choose from if the charity worker ate it then and there in the shop while it was stillsomewhat warm, but explained to not take it with them. While I put their food together, made them a hot frink and they enjoyed the food in the shop after closing time while we were cleaning up. But now when Pret want money, they do everything they can to get a penny. Health and safety out the window.
Where before Pret wouldn’t even give it for FREE, they sell it now cheaper, risking health and safety of customers. What do we expect when a company gets away with 2 customer deaths and over 20 injuries we know of.
When I called Pret and TGTG out on this, TGTG blocked me.
So far to health and safety, and transparency.
Chefs versus Sandwich Makers
When Pret run out of an item, they just place a sign into the fridge saying “Chefs at work” to imply that there are chefs/cooks in Pret’s kitchens, while they’re “just” sandwich makers who ASSEMBLE sandwiches/salads etc. from factory ready cooked produce, hence: prêt à manger / ready to eat.
The only products that are not ready cooked in factories are the frozen baguettes, cookies and croissants that are up to a year old (not fresh) and then just baked in ovens from their frozen state.
The other raw item that is delivered every morning, and god knows how old, is the raw egg mix that comes in Tetra Paks and are then just poured into paper trays and cooked in the oven for the bacon butties. Same with bacon, it’s just cooked on baking trays in the ovens.
No Pots and Pans in Pret’s Kitchens
Soups and porridge are also cooked in factories, delivered in bags that contain 6 cups per bag. These bags are then just reheated in water-baths or microwaves. The hot chef, or whoever starts in the morning first thing switches all the machines on (coffee machines, ovens, “marinator”/water-bath) to preheat. Porridge bags and some soup bags are put into the water bath which takes a good 40-60 minutes to heat up, ready for breakfast (porridge) and lunch (soups).
If around lunchtime a shop either runs out of soup or didn’t put enough soup bags into the marinator, they just pour a bag of cold (factory ready cooked) soup bags into a container and heat up for 8 minutes in the microwave.
I was told by a former staff that Pret now freeze their soups to extend the expiry date. Does all this sound “freshly made” or fresh to you? The private message on this is found here: Pret Staff Tested Positive For Covid (And Pret did Nothing).
In a nutshell, Pret “freshly prepare” their food the same way we do at home. We buy bread, ham, cheese, ready-boiled eggs that come in water/brine, tomatoes etc. We put all the ready cooked foods into our fridge, and two days later “freshly prepare” a ham and cheese sandwich topped with slices of ready-boiled eggs.
All the ingredients are several days to weeks old, and keep aging in our fridges.
Panera Bread, the chain mainly in the USA, which is also owned by JAB Holdings that own Pret, fired a staff for posting a video on social media explaining how Panera really do their Mac & Cheese, in water baths, just the way Pret do their soups and porridge.
Pret’s Mac & Cheese in my time 2018 was made from ready cooked pasta, then mixed with Bechamel, added in some ready-cooked cauliflower, bacon and cheese on top, and then heated in its paper packaging in the oven. But again, everything’s already factory cooked and then just assembled and re-heated.
Panera’s (frozen) Mac & Cheese preparation, same way Pret do their soups and porridge:
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 witnessed by customers: 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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