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Your favourite restaurant meals may not be as fresh as you think

When you go to any decent restaurant, you expect to be forking out for food that is freshly prepared, right? But according to new research, many restaurant chains pre-prepare meals to save time.

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According to Daily Mail, Channel 4 show Tricks of the Restaurant Trade has revealed some of the dark truths about eating out by exposing restaurants that have ordered food from caterers or prepared food in centralised kitchens, sometimes days before it’s actually served.

The meals are then microwaved and served up to the customers, ensuring that restaurants do not need to employ as many skilled chefs and need only a few minutes to serve up the food rather than taking the hours that would otherwise be needed to prepare from scratch.

This week’s episode highlights a chain that is believed to be guilty of this practice: Pizza Express. The popular pizza chain reportedly has its lasagne shipped in from Italy, and its dough is prepared in a central bakery rather than in each individual kitchen. Other chains alleged to be doing similar things are Pizza Hut and Frankie & Benny’s.

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Pizza Express has not denied that these findings are correct, as it revealed to Daily Mail: “Our dough recipe has remained the same for over 50 years and we’re dedicated to ensuring that it’s consistently of the highest quality.

“It is prepared in our bakery using the finest ingredients, including British flour, and then proved in our restaurants by our expert Pizzaiolos who stretch, toss and top each and every pizza to order”.

That seems like a fair point.

The spokesperson continued, “This is all done in our fully open plan kitchens which allow our guests to see their food as its being prepared”.

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“One of our popular lasagne dishes is made to a special recipe by a family-run business in Italy, using quality ingredients”.

Is this something that actually bothers consumers? Or is the taste of the food more important than what happens before it arrives at your table?

According to the show’s presenter, Kate Quilton, it’s not the fact that it’s being done; it’s that the details are not being disclosed to paying customers that is the issue.

“The problem is there is a lack of openness in the industry about the fact some of them are ordering from catering companies”, she said. “I feel cheated. If I go to a restaurant and I order a meal, I expect them to have made it”.

Tricks of the Restaurant Trade is on Channel 4, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

Let us know your thoughts on restaurants pre-preparing and outsourcing food in the comments below.

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