Keeping track of how many calories and fat in our lunch would be easier if popular high-street sandwich brands clearly labelled the nutritional value, consumer watchdog Which? has warned.
The report claims confusing and contradicting labels on lunchtime favourites are making it hard for consumers to make correct comparisons when choosing the healthier option.
Tesco, Aldi, Greggs, Morrisons and Caffe Nero were all criticised for their lack of ‘traffic light labelling’ on pre-packed sandwiches.
The standard labels, created by the Foods Standards Agency, should include a colour-coded wheel indicating the salt, saturated fat and calorie content – with red, amber and green measuring how high or low the nutrient levels.
Food retailers who do use the traffic light labelling system include Asda, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Boots.
As portion size and nutritional content vary from sandwich to sandwich, Which? point out consumers could be eating three times as much fat and double the amount of salt in apparently 'equivalent' meals.
To illustrate their concerns, Which? focused on three popular sandwiches – chicken salad, egg mayonnaise and bacon, lettuce and tomato (BLT).
They discovered a chicken sarnie from Morrisons contained 11.7g fat compared to one from Waitrose which contains 6.0g fat. A BLT from Lidl racks up 3.36g of salt, whereas in Boots, the same sandwich contains 1.5g salt.
Incidentally, the sandwiches with the highest levels of fat and salt were the ones without the traffic light labelling.
"With obesity levels reaching epidemic proportions, it's more important than ever that consumers know exactly what they're eating,” Richard Lloyd from Which? said in a statement.
“Many retailers are already using traffic-light labelling, but the rest need to catch up and do what works best for consumers. We want to see the government insist that all food companies use traffic lights on their labels, so there's a clear, consistent system that makes it easier for people to make informed choices about what they eat."