Those of you with a penchant for the traditional post piss-up English delicacy of doner kebab might do well to keep a defibrillator to hand - if the results of a study by council food standards officers are anything to go by.
The Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) coordinated a doner dragnet in which operatives from 76 councils across Blighty examined 494 post-pub pitta-wrapped pabula. If your heart can stand it, the shock results were: The average kebab contains 98 per cent of daily salt, nearly 1000 calories (half a woman’s daily food intake) and 148 per cent of daily saturated fat.
And that's just the average kebab. The LACORS press release (.doc) outlines the health benefits of the worst offenders thus: 1990 calories before salad and sauces - over 95 per cent of a women’s daily calorie intake; 346 per cent of a women’s saturated fat intake; and 277 per cent of an adult’s daily salt intake.
The upshot of this is that, were doners subject to the supermarket "traffic light" system, 97 per cent would be red for fat, 98 per cent would be red for saturated fat and 96 per cent would be red for salt.
Well, if that's not enough to get you waddling breathless to the salad bar, LACORS explains you might not even be aware of what your late-night death-with-chilli-sauce extravaganza actually contains. It elaborates:
The study found a major issue with food labelling, 40 per cent of sampled kebabs that provided labelling information did not have an exact declaration for the meat species present. Tests also showed that in 15 per cent of cases beef was found in the kebab, but not declared on the label. In fact, 35 per cent of the labels listed different meat species than that actually contained in the kebab. Alarmingly, six kebabs tested positive for pork when it had not been declared as an ingredient, of which two were claimed as Halal.
LACORS chairman, Cllr Geoffrey Theobald OBE, said: “We would never consider kebabs part of a calorie controlled diet, but the level of saturated fat and salt in some is a serious cause for concern."
Oh yes, and if you think you can avoid certain death by deploying the old "no, I'll just have a small doner thanks mate I'm watching me waistline" trick, think again, because the study found "little difference between small and large kebab weight".
LACORS's full-fat report is available here (.doc). ®
LACORS sums up the regional doner situation thus: "It makes a difference where in the UK you buy your kebab, as the North West averaged over 1,100 calories per kebab, while in Northern Ireland and London the figures were more modest at 843 and 912 calories per kebab. The South West of England supplied five of the worst ten kebabs collected in the study."