Week on a Plate

The week digested: high levels of salt found in vegan food and Pret's anti-allergy measures

Catch up on the food news from 9-13 March, including Domino’s appointing a new chairman and supermarkets aiming to tackle coronavirus panic buying

13 March 2020

Plant-based meals slammed for high salt content

Three out of five “healthy sounding” plant-based meals served by major UK restaurant chains contain 3g or more salt, which is half of an adult’s maximum daily intake of salt. According to Action on Salt, if these restaurants were to display colour-coded nutrition information on their menus like packaged food in supermarkets, more than four out of five would have a red label for high salt content. The survey analysed 290 curries, pizzas and other dishes offered at 45 restaurant, takeaway, fast food and coffee chains in the UK, with Papa John’s American hot medium pizza the worst overall offender with 9.28g salt.


Pret spends £20m on anti-allergy measures

Pret A Manger spent £20m last year on a food safety overhaul, with £10m-a-year of ongoing costs, following the deaths of two people who had eaten its products. The changes include the introduction of full labelling, in addition to changing recipes to remove allergens completely from many products. Rival companies will be required to emulate some of the changes from October 2021 once “Natasha’s law”, named for allergy victim Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, takes effect.


Michel Roux dies aged 78

Legendary French chef Michel Roux has died aged 78 after battling a long-standing lung condition. Roux and his brother Albert made history when their London restaurant Le Gavroche became the first three Michelin-starred restaurant in Britain in 1982. "We are grateful to have shared our lives with this extraordinary man and we're so proud of all he's achieved," a family statement said. "A humble genius, legendary chef, popular author and charismatic teacher, Michel leaves the world reeling in his wake.


Tesco sells Thai and Malaysian business in £8.2m deal

Tesco is to sell its south-east Asian business Lotus to Thailand’s biggest conglomerate CP Group as part of an £8.2m deal which will see the company make its exit from the continent. The UK supermarket giant has earmarked £5bn for shareholders as part of a one-off dividend, with its central European division Tesco’s only overseas operations once the sale is completed.

image credit: Domino's Pizza Group Limited


Domino’s UK appoints new chairman

Domino’s UK has appointed Matt Shattock, the former CEO of spirits company Beam Suntory, as the pizza delivery firm’s new chairman. Shattock replaces Domino’s previous chairman Stephen Hemsley who stepped down in December. “This is an important moment in the turnround of Domino’s,” said the group’s interim chairman Ian Bull.


Supermarkets plan to tackle coronavirus panic buying

As the spread of coronavirus shows little sign of abating, supermarkets are busy putting in place contingency plans to deal with the problem of customers panic buying. According to The Times, supermarkets could be allowed to team up to tackle the problem as curfews on deliveries are lifted to address potential shortages. Ministers discussed relaxing competition rules that ban retailers from co-operating with each other. A source told the newspaper: “The government has taken on our recommendation on more flexibility on delivery times. It is also looking into competition regulation and drivers’ hours. They are looking seriously at both of those things, which were pushed by us. The thing is small changes can help make a big difference.”


Households urged to reduce meat eating by half

Households will need to reduce the amount of meat and dairy they consume by half if the UK is to meet its target of being carbon neutral by 2050, according to a new study by Energy Systems. The not-for-profit organisation said research showed that the public was willing to accept electric cars and electric heating “as long as these can deliver the same experiences as before” but that people were more “resistant and emotional” to changes around their diet.


Meat industry must do more on climate change, say asset managers

In related news, global asset managers have warned the meat industry must do more to assess climate-related risks at a time when its environmental impact is starting to come under the same level of scrutiny as oil. According to research by Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (Fairr), Tyson Foods and Marfrig are the only major listed meat companies to have publicly disclosed a climate-related scenario analysis.


Sainsbury’s splashes £52m on advertising

Sainsbury’s increased its marketing spend by 82.6% last year, with the Supermarket chain spending a total of £52m on magazine, newspaper, radio and TV adverts. According to data from research firm Nielsen, the country’s major grocers together splashed £443m on advertising in total, up from £431m two years ago. Tesco was the biggest spender with at £80.8m.

image credit: McDonald’s Corporation


McDonald’s goes British with French fries

McDonald’s UK business has pledged to buy only British potatoes going forward for its French fries, in a move which will see the fast-food chain invest an additional £9m in the Britain. The company had previously tried to buy most of its potatoes from British farmers, while the rest was sourced from northern European countries such as Germany.


Cuttlefish stocks decline in Channel

The Marine Conservation Society has added cuttlefish caught in the Channel to its red “fish to avoid” list following declines in population. In the charity’s Good Fish Guide, published on Thursday, urged consumers to avoid cuttlefish caught from trawlers but said brown crab caught in pots around Shetland was back on the menu after a recovery in stocks.


Gail’s expands product range made from food waste

UK bakery Gail’s is to launch more than two dozen new products made from food waste over the coming year in a bid to become a zero-waste business. Among the new additions is a hot cross bun bacon buttie.

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