Pret A Manger adverts have been banned for implying its foods were “natural” when some contained additives.
One ad on Pret’s Facebook page stated: “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.”
Another on its website said: “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… Our sandwiches, salads and baguettes etc are made using fresh, natural ingredients… In 1986, Pret opened the doors of its very first shop. A shop with a mission. 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.”
Pret asserted that its ads did not claim it used only natural ingredients or that its food was additive- and preservative-free, but the statements were a mission statement and goal. The company also pointed out that it only claimed to avoid obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives, not eliminate all of them.
Pret confirmed its sandwich bread contained three E-numbers, believed to be commonly found in many household brands of bread and widely used in the industry to make sandwich bread.
The ASA acknowledged that some of the claims were expressed in the context of a mission statement. However, other claims were not. It said claims such as “[the founders of Pret A Manger] made proper sandwiches avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to so much of the ‘prepared’ and ‘fast food’ on the market” were likely to be interpreted as claims that Pret’s foods were “natural”.
Because some of Pret’s foods contained E-numbers, the ASA ruled those foods were not “natural”, and because the ads contained some claims that Pret’s food was “natural” when some products contained artificial additives, the claims were found to be misleading.