Cafes and Coffee Shops

Pret ads banned over ‘misleading’ natural claims

Adverts claiming that bakery chain Pret A Manger baked its goods in store and was free of additives has been ruled as misleading by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

Three adverts by the food company were investigated by the ASA, all of which were seen in December 2016.

The first one (ad a) was a post on Pret A Manger’s Flickr page, with text that said: “BAKING AT PRET. You may have noticed we have a big, fancy baker’s oven in every Pret shop (indeed some have two). We bake our baguettes, pastries, croissants and savouries in-house throughout the day … “.

The second (ad b) was uploaded on its official Facebook page, and said: “Pret opened in London in 1986. College friends, Sinclair and Julian, made proper sandwiches avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to so much of the ‘prepared’ and ‘fast’ food on the market …”.

The third (ad c) was published on its website, which in part said: “All Pret shops have a wonderful baker’s oven (indeed, some have two). We bake our baguettes throughout the day, the fresher the better… Just like our sandwiches, baguettes and salads, our wraps and flat breads are handmade throughout the day in each shop kitchen using good, natural ingredients…”

It continued: “A mission to create handmade, natural food, avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to so much of the ‘prepared’ and ‘fast’ food on the market today … GOOD NATURAL FOOD Avoiding obscure chemicals and additives common to so much ‘prepared’ and ‘fast’ food …”.

The ASA said that the adverts were misleading because it understood that the baked goods were baked off site then toasted in store. The body also said that the claims on the website and Facebook adverts ‘implied that Pret’s foods were free from artificial additives’.

Pret refuted claims that the adverts were misleading, and confirmed that all of its outlets had at least one oven and said ‘baking’ and ‘toasting’ were different processes. It also said that products were either delivered part-baked or as raw dough, but it did not suggest its sandwich loaves were baked in store.

Because of the evidence provided, the ASA concluded that these adverts were not misleading.

However, it upheld its ruling on the other adverts which suggested that Pret’s food avoided “obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives”.

The ASA said consumers were likely to interpret the use of ‘natural’ to mean it was free of any man made ingredients or interference, which contradicted the E-numbers found in the chain’s foods and its production with the use of chemical processes.

The ASA said: “Ads (b) and (c) must not appear again in their current form. We told Pret A Manger (Europe) Ltd to ensure their ads did not claim or imply that their food was “natural”, unless their products and ingredients were in line with consumer expectations of the term “natural”.

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