Which? reveals the ready meal lotteryHuge differences in their fat and salt content

15 June 2007

 

A new Which? report reveals huge variations in the fat and salt content of ready meals.

Seven in every ten people buy ready meals and nearly a third of consumers do so every week. This means over 14 million ready meals are eaten each week in Britain, more than any other country.

But some of Britain’s most popular ready meals contain over four times as much salt, almost five times more fat and nearly six times more saturates, than others.

For example, pizza fans could be surprised during their next shop:

  • Sainsbury’s Basics Fresh Pizza had twice the salt per 100g of its Basics Frozen Pizza.
  • Morrisons’ The Best Margherita Pizza had almost twice as much fat as its Thin and Crispy Cheese and Tomato Pizza per 100g.
  • Most surprisingly, Sainsbury’s Be Good to Yourself Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza had a similar amount of fat per 100g as its standard Deep Pan 4 Cheese Pizza.

Traffic light labelling

Lasagne lovers will be just as bemused as:

  • Morrisons’ standard Beef Lasagne had more fat per 100g than its premium version.
  • Per portion, Somerfield’s Simply Value Beef Lasagne had less fat than its Healthy Choice Beef Lasagne.
  • Waitrose’s Perfectly Balanced Lasagne was higher in salt per portion than its standard version.

Devotees of chicken tikka masala will also struggle with the fact that:

  • Sainsbury’s Chicken Tikka Masala had almost twice the fat of Asda’s Indian Takeaway Hot Chicken Tikka Masala per 100g but the Asda meal had around four times more salt than Morrisons’ Chicken Tikka Masala per 100g.
  • Iceland’s Indian Takeaway Chicken Tikka Masala had the lowest amount of saturates but Sainsbury’s Chicken Tikka Masala had over three times this amount per 100g.

Shoppers card

Which? chief policy adviser Sue Davies said: ‘Going to the supermarket for a ready meal has become a lucky dip as some manufacturers are still insisting on cramming their meals with salt and fat, without making it obvious for shoppers what they’re really eating.

‘We have shown that it is possible to produce healthier ready meals, so why aren’t manufacturers doing this throughout their ranges?

‘All manufacturers and retailers need to add traffic lights to their food labels to show levels of fat, sugar and salt - helping to make the healthy choice, the easy choice.’