Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Study reveals 'shocking' kebabs

Meat sliced off a rotating slab in a Glasgow takeaway
Some 35% of doners contained a different meat than advertised

Doner kebabs sold in the UK contain "shocking" levels of salt, fat and calories, a survey has concluded.

Officers from 76 councils sampled 494 kebabs to test their nutritional value, during the Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services (Lacors) study.

The average doner they tested contained almost 1,000 calories - half a woman's recommended daily intake.

Geoffrey Theobald, of Lacors, said: "The level of saturated fat and salt in some is a serious cause for concern."

He added that while they "would never consider kebabs part of a calorie-controlled diet" the true content of the average kebab was worrying.

Among the kebabs sampled - without salad or sauces - the average doner contained 98% of an adult's recommended daily salt and 148% of their daily saturated fat allowance.

Under the supermarket "traffic lights" system, red marks would be earned by 97% for fat, 98% for saturated fat and 96% for salt.

Some 35% of labels listed a different meat species than that actually found in the kebab.

This study has turned the spotlight on doner kebabs
Geoffrey Theobald

Six kebabs were found to include pork when it had not been declared as an ingredient. Two of the six were described as Halal - food or drink permitted for Muslims, which must not contain pork.

Mr Theobald said it was "totally unacceptable" that people with certain faiths were unknowingly eating meats that were against their beliefs.

The worst doners inspectors came across contained 1,990 calories before salad and sauces - over 95% of a woman's recommended daily calories, 346% of a woman's saturated fat intake and 277% of an adult's daily salt intake.

Researchers uncovered significant regional variations, with the average kebab in the north-west of England containing 1,101 calories, compared with 1,084 in Scotland, 1,055 in Wales and 1,066 in England's south-east.

Northern Ireland's average of 843 was the lowest in the UK.

Mr Theobald said it was "totally unacceptable" that inaccurate labelling was so widespread.

In addition, there was little difference in weight between kebabs labelled as "small" and "large", he added.

"While some people may think they are making sensible choices by ordering a small kebab, this study showed little difference between small and large kebab weight."

He said with obesity rates rising so rapidly in the UK, portion size was as important as content, he said.

"This study has turned the spotlight on doner kebabs and we hope that manufacturers rise to the challenge and work with councils to provide a healthier product that contains only what it says on the label," Mr Theobald said.

Research by the UK's Food Standards Agency in 2006 found that 18.5% of doner takeaways posed a "significant" threat to public health, and 0.8% posed an "imminent" threat.

Graph: Kebab content compared to GDA for men and women

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