Sep 5, 2011

Asian Indian restaurant food is fat, salty and colorful

Chicken Tikka Masala and Pilau Rice Studied in Local Government Group Study

Takeaway meals are extremely popular, with many people eating once or twice a week from an increasing variety of catering outlets. Two of the longest established and most popular takeaways offer food from India and China and it was therefore little surprise that Local Authorities chose to concentrate their reducing
resources onto the local priorities.

In this survey a total of 409 samples of Chicken tikka masala and pilau rice and sweet and sour chicken and fried rice were selected for a detailed survey. The survey included a range of optional standardised parameters which Councils could choose from, before the tests were carried out by their own Public
Analyst.

Local Government Regulation has collated the results to identify patterns and provide a national picture. A national survey that is tightly focused on a narrow range of products makes it possible to observe trends that cannot be identified at a local level.

The health problems of a population that is becoming increasingly obese has been widely discussed and it is therefore of concern to report that just one portion of these meals provided, on average, 70% of the daily recommended energy intake for an adult woman and 56% for a man. It should be remembered that the meals selected may have been just a portion of one meal in the day.

In addition the chicken tikka masala and pilau rice provided almost 120% of the recommended Guideline Daily amount for saturated fat; this was surprising as the majority of the supplied claimed to be using lower saturated vegetable oil in their recipes. However perhaps of more concern was the high level of salt in both meals;the indian meal providing justunder the 6g daily recommended maximum and the chinese meal nearly 120% of the maximum.

Some artifical colours are permitted by law, at certain levels, in sauces and marinades used in cooking the two dishes involved in this study. Certain colours investigated in this study have been implicated in affecting the behavior of children and the Food Standards Agency have asked for a voluntary ban on six of them quantified in the survey.

It is therefore disturbing to report that five out of twenty five of the chicken tikka masala dishes were found to contain in excess of the statutory maximum; the problem was still present but less severe in the chinese meals. It is recommended that food authorities make this issue a priority and with the assistance of the Local Government Group and the Food Standards Agency arrange a more comprehensive survey into the artifical colours found in tikka masala sauce.

Testing of food using modern biochemical meals has become viable for most Public Analysts laboratories; both products in this survey were chicken dishes and therefore the presence of other species could be assessed by DNA profiling. On two occasions turkey DNA was detected indicating that species substitution is not a significant problem in these meals.

Allergens are still a continuing problem, particular with those who suffer from the extreme versions and the life threatening anaphylaxis; in this survey several authorities chose to specifically request that meals should be nut free, peanut free and allergen free at the time they are delivered to the consumer ; these samples were tested for the presence of the allergens and in 20% of the indian meals the allergens were detected. It is of concern to report that even specifically asking for an allergen free meal provides little protection for
the allergen sufferer in so many cases.

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