A Panera Bread worker says she was fired after she posted a viral video showing that the restaurant's food is frozen before it is prepared.
The video posted on TikTok by @briannaraelenee -- identified by multiple news outlets as Brianna Ramirez -- has an on-screen title "how panera prepares mac & cheese" and an accompanying caption "exposing panera." The video shows the frozen bag of macaroni and cheese being placed in boiling water. When it is pulled out, the bag is cut open and the macaroni is poured into a bowl. USA TODAY reports it has been viewed more than 6 million times.
After the video blew up, the employee posted another video titled, "yooo i'm really not tryna get fired."
"Yes. Panera's soups are frozen," she said, listing several dishes served by the restaurant. "That does not mean they're not good.
"There's not a reason not to eat it. It's perfectly fine. Most stores have frozen food, frozen pastas, frozen meats," she adds, noting other places serve food that is initially frozen.
"Don't stop eating at Panera," she concludes.
A Panera spokesperson reportedly did not deny this is how the macaroni and cheese is prepared. According to USA TODAY, Jessica Hesselschwerdt said Panera does this "to avoid using certain preservatives that do not meet our clean standards" and so it can be served the same way at restaurants across the country.
The worker posted to Twitter Friday that she was fired for the video. She later posted on TikTok saying, "I was told that we had to part ways." Her video was titled "learn from mistakes & follow regulations."
Hesselschwerdt did not confirm to USA TODAY if the worker was fired, saying the company doesn't discuss personnel matters.