**UPDATED 10TH April**
The BIG news in the gluten free world this week was Pret a Manger’s announcement that it would be adding new gluten free bread to its spring menu. After 3.5 years searching for the best gluten free bread they decided to develop their own and Pret are very excited to finally be launching this gluten free offering. The new menu launches in Pret a Manager stores tomorrow, Tuesday 9th April.
This is brilliant news for gluten free folk, however I wanted to dig a bit deeper and find out whether the new menu items would be suitable for coeliacs and others with a serious gluten sensitivity.
In short, the answer is no. The new Pret gluten free open sandwiches are not going to be coeliac friendly due to cross contamination. Allow me to sum up my personal feelings about this before I give you more detail…
I contacted both the Pret a Manger press team and visited a Pret store today to find out the full information from Pret themselves. The hype around launches of this type can often lead to the important questions about suitability being overlooked, and I am glad I took the time to get to the bottom of this. Here’s what I found out:
I spoke with a Pret store manager and she really helpfully explained their kitchen processes and was very honest about it:
- Although Pret have firm practices in place to try and minimise as much cross contamination as possible, the Pret kitchen space is limited as there would not be a dedicated gluten free preparation area.
- The gluten free bread will be stored with the regular bread.
- The gluten free sandwiches would be prepared on a clean board with clean utensils, etc. However, gluten-containing sandwiches would likely be prepared at an adjacent work station to the gluten free sandwiches.
- She noted that the gluten free salads would continue to be a much safer option as they are made away from the sandwiches.
- Pret take allergens seriously, but ultimately she would not recommend the gluten free bread to anyone with a serious gluten sensitivity.
- If you do wish to risk it, the safest time of the day is first thing in the morning. The manager noted that at that time of the day the items would have a greater chance of being fully gluten free.
I reached out to the Pret a Manger press team for comment. I asked them whether the new gluten free items would be suitable for coeliacs and their response was:
“We cannot say these products are suitable for coeliacs. Our gluten-free bread is baked for us in a completely gluten-free environment and the toppings that are added in our kitchens are also free from gluten. However, the Pret kitchen space is limited so we aren’t able to have a fully enclosed gluten-free preparation area. We have clear processes to reduce the risk of our gluten-free bread coming into direct contact with ingredients containing gluten. For example, when making a batch of sandwiches, our Team Members have their own bench which they thoroughly clean and sanitise after each batch has been completed. They also focus on producing and packaging one product type at a time to help reduce the risk of cross-contact.”
Obviously, this is disappointing for us coeliacs but least Pret have provided a clear response. They are so close to having a great gluten free offering but processes need to be slightly refined. I would encourage you send Pret some feedback asking that: 1) gluten free bread is stored in a sealed container, and 2) staff are given rigorous cross contamination training. The more emails they get from our community, the more likely they are to take action. These measure would at least make the offering much safer, akin to any mixed facility eatery.
The New Gluten Free Pret a Manger Menu
So, all in all, not great for us coeliacs. However, if you are less sensitive I envy you as the new additions sound delicious. Plus Pret have clearly put a lot of effort into developing their gluten free bread! Here are the full details of the gluten free bread menu items launching tomorrow at Pret a Manger:
- Smashed Avo on Pret’s Gluten-Free Bread, £3.25 (Vegan)
Freshly-smashed avocado, a sprinkle of chilli & red pepper salt and a wedge of lemon to finish.
- Coconut & Berries on Pret’s Gluten-Free Bread, £3.25 (Vegan)
A layer of coconut yoghurt, Pret’s five berry compote, fresh blueberries and a scattering of toasted coconut chips.
- Chicken Caesar & Smashed Avo on Pret’s Gluten-Free Bread, £3.75 Smashed avocado topped with chargrilled British chicken in a Caesar mayonnaise, shaved Italian cheese and a sprinkle of mustard cress.
- Veggie Pret only: Humous & Roasted Peppers on Pret’s Gluten-Free Bread, £3.25 (Veggie)Topped with Pret’s humous, red tapenade and basil leaves. Finished with chargrilled peppers, creamy diced feta cheese and a sprinkling of pine nuts.
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