UK sandwich and cafe chain Pret A Manger has today announced it is set to complete the nationwide roll-out of its full ingredient labels for fresh food to all 391 UK stores by the end of the week.
Pret has worked on the full ingredient label rollout for six months and said it has been one of the biggest operational changes in the business’s history. Each freshly-made food item will be labelled every day with a full list of ingredients, including any of the 14 EU declarable allergens highlighted in bold.
Pret used two new pieces of equipment to carry out the rollout: individual recipe cards, which allow Pret staff 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.
Pret’s initially announced full ingredient labels roll-out in May this year as is part of Pret’s Five-Point Allergy Plan.
Pret CEO Pano Christou 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.
“It has been a real team effort. I know it’s been challenging for our shops while we’ve made all these changes. I want to thank every Team Member for what they have achieved.
“Our task now is 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.”
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The Pret full ingredient labels were introduced after calls were made for Pret to further regulate its labelling following the deaths of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Celia Marsh, in 2016 and 2017 respectively, who unknowingly consumed unlabelled Pret products.
Natasha Allergy Research Foundation CEO and co-founder and Ednan-Laperouse’s mother Tanya Ednan-Laperouse said: “One year on from Natasha’s inquest, we are extremely pleased that Pret a Manger has delivered on its pledge to learn the lessons and bring meaningful change for all allergy sufferers.
“Pret has shown that with a strong corporate determination to do the right thing, the food industry is capable of providing the necessary full allergen and ingredient labelling to give consumers the appropriate information and choices.
“Their research also shows 88%of the public support Natasha’s Law, making it the most important priority for food retailers and customers amid the growing epidemic of allergies in the UK. Pret has taken the lead and we urge others to follow suit and prevent families in the future from suffering as we will always do.”
Manager of one of the first Pret shops to pilot the new labels Bruno Nobrega said: “I’m incredibly proud of my team for showing that it was possible to label every single product in our kitchens.
“When we first started the trial last year, I thought it would take months for us to get used to a new system. My team proved me wrong and the feedback from customers has been brilliant.”
Earlier this month, the UK Government announced the introduction of new legislation, set for October 2021, which requires food businesses to fully label all food pre-packed for direct sale.
Anaphylaxis Campaign chief executive Lynne Regent added: “Millions of people are living every day with allergies, which is why we strongly believe full ingredient labelling is a necessary step.
“Pret has shown through the action it has taken that full ingredient labelling is possible in busy kitchens. We hope this will serve as an encouragement for other food businesses to follow suit ahead of the legislation coming into force.”