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Supermarket salads get a dressing down

Which? looks at supermarket salads' nutrition


If you think that salad is always a healthy option, think again – our search of supermarket shelves revealed one salad that contained more calories than a Big Mac and fries.

We found Smedleys Atlantic Prawn Marie Rose Salad, £1.49 (300g) – available at Morrisons – which contains 855 calories and 66.3g fat – more than a McDonald’s Big Mac and medium fries and 70% of the fat a man should eat in a day.

Creamy dressings

From a selection of 20 high street salads, another unhealthy option was Asda Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, £2 (297g), which contains 41.3g of fat, as much as six Cadbury’s Crème eggs. Almost a quarter of the salad is made up of high-calorie dressing (13% mayonnaise, 10% Caesar dressing).

Mayonnaise or creamy sauces were the main reason for many of the salads being so surprisingly high in calories and fat. 

Mayonnaise dressing is the second highest ingredient (27%) in an M&S Pasta with Tomato & Basil Chicken salad, £3.20 (380g), which had 760 calories and 46g fat.

Sainsbury’s Tomato & Basil Chicken salad, £2.95 (350g), is also comparatively high in fat. The label specified that it had no mayo but the ingredients list revealed that it contained egg yolk, oil and white wine vinegar – the same ingredients as mayonnaise.

Clearer labelling

A potentially confusing label was on a Tesco Tuna Layered Salad. At a glance, it seems the salad contains 275 calories and 20.5g fat – but this is for half the pack. If you ate the whole 350g pack (a reasonable amount for one person), you would consume 550 calories and 41g fat.

Which? wants food companies to adopt one label so shoppers can see at a glance levels of fat, sugar and salt. Definitive research by the Food Standards Agency shows that a combined label including traffic light colours, guideline daily amounts, grams of nutrients per portion and the words ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ works best for consumers.

Salads can be healthy

It’s not all bad news for salad lovers, though, as salads can contribute to their ‘five-a-day’. 

We found Sainsbury’s Rainbow Salad, £2.20 (215g), which contains lots of vegetables and has soya beans and lentils that are low in fat and a good source of protein. The dressing is on the side, so you can add as much or as little as you want. 

Another healthy option is Sainsbury’s Thai Chicken Noodle, £2.95 (260g), which also has the dressing in a separate container and is low in fat, salt and sat fat.

Martyn Hocking, editor, Which?, says: ‘If you thought your high-street salad was healthy, you could be in for a surprise. Which? has found that there were large differences between the amount of fat, saturated fat, salt and calories in pre-packaged salads. Check the label or you could end up with egg on your face.

‘This latest research backs up what we’ve been saying for ages – a clear, consistent labelling scheme is important to help people spot how much fat, sugar and salt is in the food they’re buying.’

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