Pret A Manger has removed allergens from more than 70 products as part of a five-point allergy plan, which also includes full ingredient labels in every UK shop.
The majority of allergen removals come from the change to Pret’s seasoning which no longer contains mustard or celery with the Smoked Salmon Sandwich, Ham & Cheese Croissant and Falafel, Avo & Chipotle Flatbread among the items that have changed as a result.
Pret has also removed sesame seeds from its stone-baked baguettes, replacing them with sunflower seeds “to retain the texture and flavour of the bread”. However, it noted these products are still baked in an environment where sesame is present so there is a risk of cross-contamination.
The food-to-go specialist has been revising its allergen policies following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a baguette that contained sesame to which she was allergic. Pret vowed to make “meaningful change” to its policies following the incident.
“This plan brings together some of the most important changes we have been making to help customers with allergies,” said Pret CEO Clive Schlee, adding that the roll-out of full ingredient labels of Pret’s freshly-made products was at the heart of the plan.
“But labelling is only part of the challenge. We have listened to Pret customers with allergies and they have told us they face a range of issues when deciding to eat out – from limited menu choices to a lack of awareness and understanding from food businesses.
“Pret’s Allergy Plan will tackle many of these issues – and help to ensure that every customer has the information they need to make the right choice for them.”
The Five-Point Action Plan comprises:
- Full ingredient labels in every UK shop on all freshly made products. As well as training Pret team members on the new labelling process, Pret has offered to share the details with the government and wider industry to help other food businesses adopt a similar approach. The labels are live in 20 London shops as of this week, with further roll-outs planned later this month and over the summer. It follows the completion of a pilot in two shops in London Victoria, which has seen staff label over half a million Pret sandwiches, baguettes and wraps since November 2018.
- Tablets with full ingredient information in every UK shop are to be rolled out over 2019. Customers will be able to filter out ingredients to find products they can consume based on their individual dietary needs.
- Removing allergens from products without compromising taste. More than 70 Pret recipes have been reformulated to remove one or more allergens. The move reflects the addition of a new step in Pret’s product development process, where allergens are reduced wherever possible, without impacting quality or taste.
- Pret to share quarterly incident updates. To help boost transparency across the industry, Pret will produce detailed updates on food safety and ingredients on a quarterly basis.
- An inside-out approach to allergy awareness. Pret will build on its existing allergy training programme, which includes Pret Academy, online, and on-the-job modules, to encourage the right behaviours and understanding of allergies in every shop. Specific measures include adding allergy awareness to Pret’s weekly mystery shopper programme; launching new upskilling programmes for 1,000 Baristas, Hot Chefs and other key roles – including an additional £1m investment in higher rates of pay for those who complete the additional training; and UK-wide training for team members on the new labelling process.
As part of its biggest-ever menu change, Pret introduced gluten-free bread in April as part of a four-strong open sandwich range, which was rolled out alongside a host of other sandwiches and snacks.