Warning over takeaway calories

Mon, Oct 1, 2012, 01:00

A typical Chinese takeaway meal of a starter, main course and egg fried rice can contain more calories than your total daily requirement, according to new research by Safefood, the all-island body responsible for food safety and healthy eating.

It found that a Chinese takeaway of vegetable spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice provided approximately 2,184 calories which is 109 per cent of the recommended daily allowance. It contained 74 grams of total fat which is 106 per cent of the guideline daily amount and 10 grams of salt, or 160 per cent of the recommended daily intake.

The research found that a portion of prawn crackers contained on average 608 calories – or almost one third of the recommended daily calorie intake. A portion of egg fried rice contained on average 727 calories - more than one third of the recommended daily calorie intake. The average portion of boiled and egg fried rice was found to be enough for two.

Safefood sampled 220 meals from 35 takeaway outlets across the island of Ireland for the study.

It chose three starters: prawn crackers, won tons with sweet and sour sauce, and vegetable spring rolls, and three main courses: beef curry, king prawn satay and sweet and sour chicken.

It found that portion sizes varied considerably and were large. Five-fold differences were found among portions of prawn crackers, while a three-fold difference was seen across portions of won tons and vegetable spring rolls.

Main course portion sizes were found to be enough for two people with the average portion of beef curry and sweet and sour chicken easily exceeding the recommended average portion size.

Sweet and sour chicken was found to have the highest energy and total fat content, containing an average of 1,106 calories and 41 grams per portion. Beef curry was found to have the highest saturated fat and salt content. A portion of vegetable spring rolls was the healthiest option when the three starters were compared.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Safefood’s director of human health and nutrition, said traditional Chinese food was healthy, being low in fat and with a strong emphasis on vegetables, but chefs here had adapted their recipes to suit Irish taste buds.

“With our taste buds in the West favouring foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar and because we eat bigger portions, Chinese dishes have become less healthy over time.”

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