A move to full allergen labelling has resulted in the “biggest change to Pret kitchens in our history” – with walls quite literally being knocked down to provide extra food prep space, its CEO has said.
Pano Christou, who took over as boss of Pret this month, revealed contractors have been to every one of the company’s 391 stores, with electricians “weaving wires through some of the oldest buildings in the UK” to accommodate new equipment and technology for labelling.
As of last week, every Pret shop now has full ingredient labels on all freshly-made products following a huge operational exercise over the last six months to implement new labelling technology and a comprehensive training programme for over 9,000 team members.
As a result of the change, all of Pret’s freshly made sandwiches, salads, baguettes and soups are now labelled on pack each day with a full list of ingredients, with the presence of any of the 14 EU declarable allergens highlighted in bold.
The roll-out follows a successful pilot in two shops in London Victoria in the wake of last year’s inquest into the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016.
Since November, Pret staff have labelled over 30 million products, using two new pieces of equipment: individual recipe cards which enable employees to prepare food in kitchens on site and print off a bespoke label; and new tablets to keep a record of each product that leaves the kitchen.
The initiative forms a key part of Pret’s Allergy Plan, launched in May 2019. The plan, which is designed to help every customer with allergies get the best possible information about Pret food and drink, sets out five priorities for Pret to help people with allergies.
These include the launch of new menu tablets in every shop, the removal of allergens from a range of Pret products, and a commitment to produce quarterly food safety reports.
Pano Christou, CEO of Pret, said: “When we launched the Pret Allergy Plan, we said we would learn from the past and make meaningful changes to help customers with allergies.
“In less than a year, we have made the biggest change to Pret kitchens in our history. Software developers have created new labelling technologies. Walls have been knocked down to provide extra space in our kitchens. Electricians have been to every shop, weaving wires through some of the oldest buildings in the UK.”
Mr Christou said the company’s task now was to keep delivering on the Pret Allergy Plan.
“Pret’s commitment is absolutely clear: to make sure that every customer has the information they need to make the right choice for them.”
Last month, the government announced that new legislation will come into force in October 2021 which requires food businesses to fully label all food pre-packed for direct sale.