A woman says she lost her job at Panera Bread because of a viral TikTok video she shared showing how the restaurant chain’s mac and cheese is made: delivered frozen in plastic packets, warmed in a vat of water and served to customers after a cheeky little jiggle. The video has been liked more than 946,000 times.
The initial response to the video was shock — and mockery at people who didn’t know Panera’s food came frozen. “Most chain restaurants freeze their foods… everyone needs to chill, Panera still bomb,” one user wrote.
The woman, who goes by the username brianneraelenee on TikTok and Bri on Twitter, shared a tweet on Oct. 11 saying that had she lost her job because of the video. She also shared an emotional video of what appeared to be the immediate aftermath of her firing on TikTok.
Before sharing this update, Bri had also published several videos defending Panera for freezing food, and apologizing. “I like my job, I’m really not trying to get fired,” she said in one. She did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment.
In a statement to TIME, a Panera spokesperson Gina Petraglia says the company does not discuss personnel matters and so couldn’t verify if Bri was let go because of the mac and cheese video.
Petraglia did verify that Panera freezes many of its soups and mac and cheese. Freezing allows the company to “avoid using certain preservatives that do not meet our clean standards,” Petraglia said. “The way we prepare our mac & cheese ensures that people can walk into any Panera nationwide and get the same delicious, clean mac & cheese that makes it one of our most popular items.” Panera serves at least 3 million servings of mac and cheese monthly, according to the company.
In a Tweet Monday, Bri said she doesn’t believe she was wrongfully terminated. “Having such long nails and my phone out is a risk to food safety and health regulations,” she wrote. “Everything was completely justified.”
“I just want it to be known that I respect Panera and what the situation is,” she added in a later tweet. “It was a mistake on my part and there really isn’t a way to take back the video.”
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