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Panera defends its mac and cheese after a video exposed the menu item is, gasp, cooked in a bag

A Panera Bread employee spilled the chain’s not-so-secret trade secret about its signature mac and cheese on TikTok. But the viral fame might’ve cost her the job.

In a quick clip filmed from behind the counter, TikTok user @briannaraelenee dips a frozen pack of Panera’s white cheddar mac & cheese into hot water, pulls it out and empties the steaming bag into a bowl before she serves it.

It’s not exactly a surprising reveal–how else would the chain make its creamy, dreamy mac-and-cheese that always tastes the same across more than 2,100 locations?

The clip earned nearly 950,000 likes on the app. But in another video, the user tearfully shared that she’d been fired from her job.

CNN reached out to a Twitter account linked to the TikTok user and is waiting to hear back.

A Panera spokesperson told CNN the company doesn’t comment on personnel matters but assured that the meals are shipped frozen so they can leave out certain preservatives that don’t meet the company’s clean standards.

“Mac and cheese is made off-site with our proprietary recipe developed by our chefs and using our sourced ingredients that meet our standards for our clean menu offerings,” the spokesperson said.

The item is prepared daily as it’s ordered, the spokesperson said. It’s available on grocery store shelves, too, for diners to devour at home, though that version doesn’t come frozen.

CNN