Restaurant dishes often contain more than double the amount of calories stated on menus, tests find
- Rules brought in last year compelled food outlets to disclose calorie numbers
Calorie counts on menus may make us guilty enough to pass on the dish we really want in favour of something seemingly healthier.
But mulling over the numbers could be a waste of time as restaurant dishes often contain more than double the calories stated on menus, according to tests.
Rules brought in last year compelled food outlets to declare on their menus the number of calories in their meals.
But an experiment by The Sunday Times conducted with the University of Greenwich’s food-testing laboratory has revealed that the calorie counts on menus are often wildly inaccurate.
In the experiment, 20 samples of food were purchased from ten popular restaurant chains in the UK including Pizza Express, Dishoom, Leon, and Las Iguanas. The food was then tested at the lab.
Mulling over the numbers could be a waste of time as restaurant dishes often contain more than double the calories stated on menus, according to tests
It was found that only half the dishes fell within the 20 per cent ‘accepted margin of difference’ allowed between the actual and stated calories.
Five of the samples had significantly higher calories than stated, while five were significantly lower. Dishoom’s ‘roomali roti’, a soft flatbread, contained 727 calories – more than three times the 236 calories stated.
A Las Iguanas nachos dish had 1,156 calories, despite the menu declaring just 576.
Dr Nazanin Zand, an associate professor in food and nutrition at the University of Greenwich, said: ‘Consumers should use the nutritional information on the menu as rough estimates, rather than an absolute value.’
Dishoom said: ‘As a restaurant with chefs who do things by hand, there is some variation in portioning.’
Las Iguanas said the ‘only logical explanation’ was that the portion was significantly larger than the usual size.