Luxury ready meals contain twice as much fat, salt and sugar as budget versions

Supermarket luxury ranges of ready meals can contain more than twice as much fat and salt than the cheaper, value versions, according to a new academic study. Glasgow University academics said, “Some of the meals should be labelled damaging on their packaging after discovering that they contained shocking levels of saturated fat, the major cause of heart disease.

The high end meals come with shocking levels of saturated fat. Just one serving can contain an adult’s entire daily recommended fat intake, according to the study. Researchers from Glasgow University analysed a range of ready meals that are on sale in five of Britain’s largest supermarkets. They found that some meals contained substantially more of the guideline daily amount (GDA) of fat, that an adult should consume than their cheaper counterparts.

Mike Lean, chair of human nutrition at Glasgow University said, “Labelling food as extra special or finest can be misleading for consumers who might expect health benefits at a higher price point. This does not seem to be the case. Value lines are not nutritionally inferior and general represent good value for money.”

“Sainsbury’s taste the difference beef lasagne contains more than twice the saturated fat than its basics version”, the researchers said.The luxury meal has 77 per cent of the guideline daily amount (GDA) of fat, whereas its budget equivalent has 36 per cent.It also contains more salt with 34.5 per cent GDA, compared to the cheaper version’s 28.8 per cent.

How they compare:

. Asda smart price macaroni cheese – 48% GDA of saturated fat.

. Asda extra special macaroni cheese – 114% GDA of saturated fat.

. Asda smart price lasagne – 33% GDA of saturated fat.

. Asda extra special lasagne – 72% GDA of saturated fat.

. Morrisons savers macaroni cheese – 74% GDA of saturated fat.

. Morrisons kitchen macaroni cheese – 140% GDA of saturated fat.

. Morrisons savers beef lasagne – 40% GDA of saturated fat.

. Morrisons kitchen beef lasagne – 85% GDA of saturated fat.

. Sainsbury basics beef lasagne – 35% GDA of saturated fat.

. Sainsbury taste the difference beef lasagne – 77% GDA of saturated fat.

. Sainsbury basics shepherd’s pie – 22% GDA of saturated fat.

. Sainsbury taste the difference shepherd’s pie – 52.5% GDA of saturated fat.

. Tesco value cottage pie/shepherd’s pie meals – 18% GDA of saturated fat.

. Tesco finest cottage pie/shepherd’s pie meals – 39% GDA of saturated fat.

. Tesco value chicken tikka masala – 41% GDA of saturated fat.

. Tesco finest chicken tikka masala – 68% GDA of saturated fat.

Mr Lean said, “A meal that contains 140 per cent of GDA contains the amount that should be spread over at least five meals, more than a day’s food. That is shocking. Consumer organisations and politicians should demand that such meals are clearly labelled as damaging.”

But the supermarkets rejected the complaints, with Sainsbury’s saying, “It was committed to helping customers eat healthily and it was the first UK retailer, to introduce traffic light labelling on packaging, showing the salt and fat content.”

Tesco also said, “Its packaging displayed nutritional information on the front of the pack”, while Morrisons highlighted the larger portion sizes in its kitchen range. An Asda spokesman said, “Extra special is indulgent by definition and our customers love it.”

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