A Panera Bread employee says she lost her job after she posted a video to social media service TikTok revealing that the restaurant chain freezes its macaroni and cheese. The video, captioned "exposing panera," is overlaid with the text "how panera prepares mac & cheese" and shows a worker dropping a vacuum-sealed bag of frozen, cheesy pasta into boiling water, removing it when heated, cutting open the pouch, and dumping it into a bowl to be served to a customer. As USA Today reports, the post "unleashed a fury of criticism about how much of Panera Bread’s 'clean' food is actually frozen." But a rep for the company explains the entree, along with some of the chain's soups, are actually frozen "to avoid using certain preservatives that do not meet our clean standards."
"We want to make sure that if you're in Massachusetts or California or in any one of our 2,100 locations that you get that same awesome experience," the spokesperson says. Some comments on the original video were in agreement—"That’s what almost every restaurant does though," notes one comment; another adds, "do y’all think all food chain places have one chef that goes everywhere????? Obviously it’s frozen or it wouldn’t all taste the same." The worker herself later posted a video defending the food and then one in which she said, "I like my job, I'm really not trying to get fired, I'm sorry Anthony!" But she revealed on Twitter Friday she had, in fact, been fired over it and later said she'd learned from her mistake. (Read more Panera Bread stories.)