Pret a Manger will roll out full ingredient labelling across all of its UK stores this summer, The Grocer can reveal.
The sandwich chain has been piloting full ingredient labelling at a shop in Victoria, London since November, when CEO Clive Schlee vowed the company would make “meaningful changes” to how it provides allergen information in the wake of the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.
It expanded the pilot to a second London store this month, and plans to roll it out into 20 to 30 more locations ahead of the summer rollout.
“Our customers rightly expect transparency of ingredients, which is why we are committed to providing full ingredient labelling,” said Tom Sugarman, Pret UK’s shops director.
“We are learning so much from our two trial shops. Making such a big change to our production system is tough for them and we are making sure we design solutions that help them to get it right every time.”
With 9,000 members of staff making 129 million freshly prepared products per year across its UK shops, technology had been a “great enabler”, he added.
“We have designed a system that embeds a product barcode on our existing recipe cards to allow our team members to scan into the printer and print the right label.”
Pret has also begun piloting in-shop iPads that enable customers to input their food allergy information and find suitable products, and last November launched a sticker system for hot drinks - which sees staff add a sticker when a customer has ordered non-dairy milk. This had “significantly” reduced the number of incidents raised by customers, it claimed.
It comes as Defra this month launched a consultation on proposals to shake up food labelling requirements for on-the-go eateries following calls for ‘Natasha’s Law’ to prevent further allergen deaths.
Mandatory full ingredients labelling is just one of the options on the table, it revealed, while the government is also considering options that would be less onerous for businesses, such as requiring them to put ‘ask the staff’ stickers on products and to produce a full ingredients list when asked.
However, Pret’s food safety advisor Tim Smith insisted the chain was committed to full ingredients labelling no matter what the outcome of the consultation.
“It’s time for showing leadership and doing the right thing,” he said. “That’s better than waiting for a consultation and regulations which, however well meaning, may not provide the answer for most of those we want to help.”