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The secret calories in your shop bought salad

October 6th 2014 / Elizabeth Bennett


Bombarded with confusing labels, making an informed decision when buying lunch on the go is enough to make us reach for the biscuits

Making the right lunch choice is tricky - we all know too well the eternal battle of healthy versus tasty. To add to the confusion it has now been revealed that two of our lunch favourites - Pret A Manger and Eat - have been providing rather misleading labels for their salads. In store, Pret’s tuna nicoise salad is labelled at a virtuous 168 calories however when checking the full nutritional information online it can be seen that with dressing, the salad comes in at 399 calories. By adding the small pot of dressing to your salad - which the majority of us will do - the salad has more than doubled in calories.

Over at Eat it’s a similar story: the Thai rare beef noodle salad supposedly contains 8.1g of sugar but with the addition of the dressing this rises to a whopping 14.3g of sugar - that’s around three-and-a-half teaspoons.

Although both Pret and Eat signed the Department Of Health’s Responsibility Deal - including a promise for clearer calorie labelling – the shops can get away with not including the full information on packaging when it’s available online. The problem here: in reality how many of us will bother to check this when we’re dashing out for lunch?

Pret have fought back against claims stating: "Shelf labels make it clear that the nutritional values are for the salad ingredients without its dressing" and "we would list nutritional values for both the salad and its dressing, but the quantity of information makes this difficult to do." What’s interesting to note is that other lunch hotspots - including M&S, Waitrose and Itsu – do manage to label their salads with nutritional information for both with and without the dressing. The moral of the story if you’re looking to calorie count: avoid shop bought dressings or shops where this information isn’t listed.

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