Full Ingredient Labelling at Pret
We know that grabbing a drink or a bite when you’re out and about can be challenging for people with food allergies. That’s why at Pret, our food doesn’t just come freshly made. From our coffees to our soups to our sandwiches, it also comes freshly labelled, so you can see at a glance all the ingredients it contains.
We take full ingredient labelling very seriously. We first introduced it as part of Pret’s Allergy Plan back in 2019, our commitment to the two million people in the UK living with a diagnosed food allergy. Since then, it has also become law. New legislation came into force in October 2021 which requires food businesses like Pret to fully label all food that’s pre-packed for direct sale in the UK.
Bringing in ingredient labelling a full two years ahead of this new requirement was no mean feat, but we learned a lot along the way. So read on to discover exactly how we make our food labels here at Pret. We hope it helps you feel informed the next time you’re eating with us.
While we're proud to freshly prepare our food in our shop kitchens every day, it is important to be aware that, as we use many ingredients and shared equipment, we are unable to guarantee that our food is allergen free due to the risk of cross-contact.
How full ingredient labelling works at Pret
Forget factories, because Pret food is freshly made in all our shops. Team members slice, dice and chop in our kitchens, all day long. But in 2019 we added one more job to their to-do lists - full ingredient labelling.
Now the team member crafting your sandwich uses a recipe card that tells them exactly how to make it. When they’ve finished, they scan the barcode on the recipe card and a printer makes a label.
Lists of ingredients can be adjusted centrally, so if a recipe changes, the label will too. Pret’s system only uses the exact number of labels needed for an item.
You will also see QR code signs in our shops which link through to our online menu, allowing you to filter and check ingredients and allergens, helping you to make the right choice for you.
Which allergens do we list on our ingredient labels?
In addition to providing a full list of ingredients, UK law requires food businesses to also emphasise 14 different allergens within their labels.
So at Pret, you’ll always find these 14 allergens listed in bold, to make them easier to see at a glance: celery; cereals containing gluten, such as barley and oats; crustaceans such as prawns, crabs, and lobsters; eggs; fish; lupin; milk; molluscs, such as mussels and oysters; mustard; peanuts; sesame; soybeans; sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if the sulphur dioxide and sulphites are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million); and tree nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts, plus pine nuts in the UK.
How and why did we set up our labelling system?
Getting to the point where we could successfully label each and every item that leaves our kitchens involved a mammoth effort, and a system that had never been tried before. In fact, people said it couldn’t be done.
But it was crucial that we did. Making meaningful changes to meet the needs of people living with food allergies was and is something that’s incredibly important to us.
Our labelling system piloted in two shops in London Victoria in early 2019.
Less than six months after the pilot, the new labelling system was rolled out to all our UK shops. It involved the biggest changes in our history, supported by new labelling technology and a comprehensive training programme on this development for over 9,000 team members. Some 2,300 Pret managers attended workshops on the new labelling process, while specialist trainers spent over 1,500 hours in our kitchens supporting team members with the new labels.
It was a challenge, but a real team effort, as Bruno Nobrega, manager of one of the first Pret shops to pilot the new labels, explains: “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 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.”
What is the law on food labelling?
At Pret, we’ve led the food-to-go industry on full ingredient labelling. But what we’ve been doing for over two years is now the law UK-wide. Natasha’s Law came into effect in October 2021, requiring all food outlets to provide full ingredient lists with clear allergen labelling on all food that is prepared, prepacked and offered or sold to consumers on the same premises.
How else do we help people with food allergies or intolerances?
When you have a food allergy or intolerance, knowing what’s in the food you're buying is a step in the right direction. But we know we can always do more.
We’re committed to sharing what we know, working with the government, regulatory authorities, charity groups and industry peers to better protect people with allergies.
Read more about our commitment to customers with food allergies and intolerances in Pret’s Allergy Plan.
Pret’s Allergen Awareness Training
Nothing is more important to us than your safety. So find out more about the allergen awareness training we give to every member of our hard-working team.