Panera Worker Defends Chain After Getting Fired for 'Exposing' How They Make Their Mac & Cheese
Brianna Ramirez posted a video to TikTok revealing that Panera's popular menu item is prepared frozen in stores
A former employee at Panera Bread who was fired for posting a video on the job has no hard feelings for the chain restaurant.
Brianna Ramirez used her TikTok account last week to post a now-viral clip of herself preparing Panera’s signature mac and cheese. The video is captioned “exposing panera” and shows Ramirez taking a frozen packet out of a box and reheating it in boiling water before cutting the packet open and pouring it into a bowl to be served. It has since been viewed over 6 million times.
The nearly 9,000 comments on the video are split among those who feel misled by the fast-casual chain for serving frozen food, and those who came to Panera’s defense. “do y’all think all food chain places have one chef that goes everywhere?????,” wrote one commenter. “Obviously it’s frozen or it wouldn’t all taste the same.”
“im not mad. im just disappointed,” wrote another.
When her TikTok clip was reposted by Twitter account @UberFacts, Ramirez responded that she was fired shortly after publishing it. “lol i lost my job for this video,” she wrote. She also kept her TikTok followers updated with multiple videos after the incident. “So I got fired from my job today!” she said, looking visibly upset.
The news of her firing had the Twitter community banding behind her, with one saying she “risked it all” by posting the video. But it was Ramirez who later clarified that she was the one in the wrong.
“There was no wrongful termination,” she wrote on Monday. “Having such long nails and my phone out is a risk to food safety and health regulations. Everything was completely justified. I made a mistake and i’ve learned from it. I will always love panera and their food.”
A spokesperson for Panera confirmed to PEOPLE that their mac and cheese is made offsite and then shipped frozen to locations. “This allows us to avoid using certain preservatives that do not meet our clean standards,” they said.
TODAY also confirmed with a Panera manager that the appliance used to reheat the pasta in Ramirez’s video is a commercial boiler that “re-thermalizes” each bag for a minimum of 20 minutes.
The company announced in 2017 that they were “100 percent clean” after removing all artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, and colors from their products.