Pret a Manger’s ‘fresh’ baguettes are made in a French factory and can keep for up to a year.
The sandwich chain regularly describes its products as natural and boasts of baking bread throughout the day in-store with ‘wonderful baker’s ovens’.
Of its baguettes, Pret’s website says: ‘The fresher the better.’ However they are made on an industrial estate near Rennes by the global food giant Bridor. Part-baked and frozen to -18C, they are shipped to Pret stores where ‘best before’ labels suggest they can be kept in freezers for up to 12 months before use.
Staff finish cooking the bread in ovens before adding fillings. The revelation follows news that a second Pret customer had died following an allergic reaction.
She was named yesterday as Celia Marsh, 42. The mother of five died last December after eating a ‘super-veg rainbow flatbread’ containing a yoghurt that was supposed to be dairy-free but contained milk.
Pret was already in the spotlight because of last month’s inquest into the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from an allergic reaction to sesame seeds in a baguette that did not have specific allergen warnings on the label.
The firm has pledged to review its labelling methods following criticism from the coroner.
A label from a box of 30 part-baked frozen Bridor baguettes which were in use at a central London Pret last week had a date of production of September 6 2018 and the best before September 6 2019.
Bridor is not believed to Pret’s only bread supplier. George Fuller of the Craft Bakers Association said: ‘Their decision to describe their products as fresh and natural has the potential to annoy our members. There is no legal definition for this, as such, so you end up in a situation where they can call their products what they want.‘
Earlier this year, Pret was at the centre of a case involving the Advertising Standards Authority about the descriptions it uses for its products. As a result it was told to stop using the word ‘natural’ in its marketing and on its website because of the use of several additives in its supplier-made bread. The Real Bread Campaign had found E-numbers in its bread which were not labelled on packs.
Boxes of baguettes sent to Pret a Manger from Bridor, which is said to make products for coffee chains Starbucks, Costa and Caffè Nero, clearly label all ingredients and allergen information in four languages.
One ‘artisan’ baguette label seen by the Mail also listed the potential allergens wheat, gluten and nuts. The founder of Bridor is billionaire Frenchman Louis Le Duff, known as the “pastry king”.He made his fortune after founding French cafe chain Brioche Dorée in 1976. It now has more than 600 bakeries around the world, with Le Duff vowing that it would have a turnover of one billion euros a year by 2020.
© Daily Mail