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Staff members from Caffé Nero claim they were encouraged to sell food that was past its sell-by date in order to help manager’s hit food wastage targets. The admission came after a customer posted an image to Facebook of a cake they had purchased which appears to have grown mould.
According to Mail Online, six former and present staff at the high-street coffee house have stated they “changed sell by dates using a label gun”.
The Times spoke with a further 17 former employees, who said they were “aware” of the practice.
However, 23 other staff members said they had never heard of such a thing happening.
A spokesperson for the coffee shop chain told Express.co.uk it was not company practice to switch sell-by dates.
The said “no store is permitted to extend the product date” however they added a supplier may sometimes ask them to do this.
A spokesman for Caffè Nero commented: “We categorically deny any suggestion that extending the shelf life on food is practiced in our stores, and take any such allegation extremely seriously. We have a very strict policy on shelf life where no store is permitted to extend the product date unless instructed to do so by the supplier. Food safety and quality are paramount at Caffe Nero and we are investigating these allegations and will be taking action against any employee found contravening our policy.”
They also further emphasised just six employees, out of its entire network of stores, had cited switching sell-by stickers.
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Revelations from staff members came to light after a customer said they had been sold a “mouldy” cake from the Chesham branch in Buckinghamshire.
The customer shared images of a mouldy raspberry and coconut crumble bar they purchased on Monday, March 1.
The customer, Mirza Sameer Khalid, claims the label on the package stated its sell-by date was February 11.
“Look at that disgusting antique and the staff are in complete denial so stay away from these,” said Mr Khalid.
Customers have taken to Twitter to slam the brand for these claims.
One customer wrote: “To risk health of customers, reputation of the company and your own job so that the Manager gets their bonus, not worth it.”
According to Mail Online the Food Standards Agency has since asked an authority which advises councils nationally to investigate.
Express.co.uk has contacted the Food Standards Agency for further information.
Reports state staff have since been directed not to follow such practices, and to ensure all food is correctly dated.
Under UK law, food outlets can only change the date on food packaging if it is validated as microbiologically safe.
However, staff who spoke to The Times said they had conflicting duties between avoiding waste and having fully stocked shelves.
It is suggested avoiding food waste could see some managers being rewarded with top earnings of £25,000 as well as bonuses for effective “forecasting and ordering of food”.
Contrastingly, none of the employees who spoke to The Times said they had been directed to change dates by higher-ups at Caffé Nero.
A lawyer for the brand told MailOnline: “This activity has never been tolerated in the 24 years of Caffè Nero.
“This has never come as an issue in the past. There is nobody in the leadership team that would tolerate such activity.”
The popular cafe brand has 800 sites across the UK, employing around 5,700 people.
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