Kebab houses and burger bars feeding our children unhealthy school meals

17th May 2010

  • Many takeaway items from kebab shops and burger bars were found to contain much higher levels of salt and saturated fat compared to national fast food chains such as McDonalds and Burger King
  • A kebab and chips could contain as much as 7.4g of salt, more than the daily maximum of 6g

See our recipe section for some low salt packed lunch ideas

What is it about?

A new snap shot survey reveals high levels of salt and saturated fat hidden in takeaway meals chosen by school children, as an alternative to school lunches and as an after school snack.

The survey of 16 London Boroughs found that a kebab and chips meal could contain as much as 60g of saturated fat, THREE TIMES the adult daily maximum recommendation, or 7.43g or salt, more than the daily maximum recommendation for salt. Astonishingly, many of the surveyed products were higher than comparable products from national fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Subway and Burger King. Chicken products were often found to contain lower levels of saturated fat and salt compared to the kebabs and other items surveyed, although not in all cases.

What is being done?

In recent years there has been a lot of progress made on school lunches, with the introduction of the School Food Trust and nutrient-based standards for primary and secondary school meals. Each London Borough has its own ideas about how to get the maximum uptake of school lunches.

In Wandsworth for instance, they have ‘stay on site’ policies operating in all of their schools, and in Walthamstow they have banned the opening of new takeaways near to schools. Environmental Health Officers across London are also developing a London wide Healthy Food award scheme that will identify businesses that have improved the nutrition of their food. There is also work being done within the schools to educate children about healthy eating, but without any nutritional information available in the stores it is hard for the children to make an educated decision on what to eat.

What can you do?

Our advice to you is to try and encourage your child to ask for no salt to be added to their food and to engage with the takeaway owners, requesting more information on the products, whether it be full nutritional information or highlighting healthier options. Also, encourage your child to eat the food provided at school, or get them involved in making their own packed lunches made up of the foods that they like.