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Should Subway sandwiches have a nutritional label on them?

Is a lack of nutritional information on sandwiches the reason consumers are unwittingly eating large amounts of salt, fat and sugar?

Published on April 23rd 2009.

Should Subway sandwiches have a nutritional label on them?
Yes: - 65%
No: - 35%

The 'Subway – Eat Fresh' slogan may need to be reworded to 'Subway – Eat Salt' following a campaign released today by Which? Magazine. The consumer information service found that Subway, along with other companies, has been a little generous with their salt portions.

A six-inch meatball marinara Subway sandwich contains as much salt as nine packets of Walkers ready salted crisps. And remember, that's not even the trademark 'foot-long' sandwich, which would contain more than one-and-a-half times the recommended daily allowance of salt. But it's not just the salt content that has come under fire; it's the fact that they don't tell us about it.

Which? says: 'Consumers should be able to make informed choices about their health when they pop out for a lunchtime sandwich. It’s great to have a wide choice of sandwiches available, but we’ve found that they can be unexpectedly high in calories. If you're looking for a healthy sandwich, it doesn’t help that labelling can be unclear, if sandwiches are labelled at all.'

Last November, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) began a campaign to get certain high street restaurants, including Subway, to commit to making various health changes. The agreement included 'making nutritional information more readily available to customers'.

In a statement, Subway said: 'Since November 08, the Subway® Chain has provided ‘point of decision’ nutritional information in the form of a cling on the front of the glass counter across its 1400 Subway® stores throughout the UK and Ireland. In June 2009, the Subway® Chain will update all its nutritional information provided in leaflets, in-store and online, in accordance with a further commitment to the FSA. The Subway® Chain is working closely with the FSA to ensure that nutritional information is provided to consumers in the most helpful way.' There won't, however, be any labels directly on their sandwiches.

But do Subway really need to provide labels to highlight the fact that a lot of their sandwiches aren't that healthy? The processed-looking meat, the cheese, the array of sauces, the doughy bread as long as your forearm – it clearly doesn't equate to good health. Do we really need labels to tell us this? The salt, fat and sugar isn't hidden; it's staring right back at you from your 12-inch sub.

On the other hand, lack of information suggests that companies such as Subway have something to hide. Providing the public with nutritional data, off-putting as it may be, will at least allow individuals to make their own informed choice.

The British Sandwich Association state that around £5.5bn is spent on commercially made sandwiches every year. Should we be made more aware of what we're spending our money on at lunchtime? Vote on the homepage.

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32 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

east lancsApril 23rd 2009.

It might be a bit tricky given sandwiches are made to order, but a big "This tub is 12% fat, 364cals, etc per 100g" would be dead easy to do, surely?

AvoApril 23rd 2009.

The nutritional information relating to the majority of the Subway menu is contained on their website anyway at http://www.subway.co.uk/menu_nutrition_info.asp

emma graceApril 23rd 2009.

Surely it's impossible unless they are pre-made and then re-heated when you buy them? I mean what happens if you go in one day, and the bugger that serves you is in a foul mood and is really stingy with the portions? Then you go in the next day and Lil who serves you has just won on the Foxy Bingo, and decides to throw an extra meatball on for you? Surely it'll never be accurate and therefore, wouldn't that make them liable for, erm, something??

DescartesApril 23rd 2009.

Boundaries Emma (must've heard of them? lol), Labels aren't always exact. They could easily say "this contains between 2% and 8% fat" or one of those pie things with a * saying average values

east lancsApril 23rd 2009.

Emma, I reckon our in-house philosopher speaks sense; stick it on the reciept. It can say "on average" for an "average" amount. That said, I'd like to know *before* I buy. If you saw my expanding gut, you'd know why!

AvoApril 23rd 2009.

Emma, you never get an extra meatball on your sub regardless as to who is serving you. It is always four meatballs per six inches!!

emma graceApril 23rd 2009.

I agree with the article anyhow...surely if you're an avid label-checker, you wouldn't be in subway in the first place!

LouApril 23rd 2009.

Those who pay attenrion to calories will have a rough idea and can check the website.They already provide the calorie content of their lower fat options but add an dasterix and a comment about the calories including no cheese or sauce. Those who are ignorant of nutrition proabbly don't read the fine print, load up an cheese and mayo and then wonder why they are gaining weight.

JApril 23rd 2009.

The idea of putting the info on the receipt is pants! So if you buy your food then check the content after you have bought it, you can return it? Hmmm, get real!

LouApril 23rd 2009.

Sorry east lancs, I don't expect everyone to know the calorie content of a cheese slice. But I do know people who take nutritional info at face value and so might not consider how much their extra filling choices add to the calories in their sandwich.

Food fascistApril 23rd 2009.

Let's face it, whatever we're eating we need to know what's in it. This isn't just limited to Subway but should apply to Burger Krap, McWrongles, Greasy Hut, even the likes of Greggs. If supermarkets have to label their foods why don't fast food joints? If they don't want us to know what's in the food then you've got to worry as to why!

east lancsApril 23rd 2009.

Greggs should be exempt. It warrants no further discussion.

emma graceApril 23rd 2009.

There's tubs of Ben & Jerry's too with no nutritional info on them...but I can live with that!

DescartesApril 23rd 2009.

Only until you die from eating them Emma ;)

LottieApril 23rd 2009.

Subway should be banned from every high street - the stench that comes out of the shops and people sit there duped into thinking they're having something healthy - they are almost as bad as Mcdonalds and KFC. Support your local independent sandwich shop I say

east lancsApril 23rd 2009.

Lottie, are you implying local sandwich shops are a vastly healthier option to Subway, don't smell, or offer a similar level of value-for-money and hygine? Just asking.

JApril 23rd 2009.

If you are really bothered about what you are eating, don't go to ANY of these places!!

emma graceApril 23rd 2009.

I think Philpotts is just as bad...rich mans Subway if you ask me

scoteeeApril 23rd 2009.

Look it's quite simple really...i f you fancy fish and chips,a dirty curry/kebab then you know your gonna get, unhealthy food in the majority of cases.If you want to eat healthily stick to the basic principles...Today i will mostly be eating.......CAKE! who ever needed educating on what's in something? ill still eat a nasty curry and the bad ones make it apparent in the morningMy real concern is Subways "Eat Fresh " Marketing ploy....It's made in front of me but even I can make a fresh 3 day old dog meat sandwich, doesn't mean the contents are fresh tho?

JApril 23rd 2009.

Well judging from the picture on here Scoteee it definately isn't fresh, healthy or similar!! lol

David FoxApril 23rd 2009.

It pisses me off that we need hand holding and we externalise our general fatness onto other people/the state. I am fatter than I want to be because I like food and eat too much. Simple as. Labelling will not change my habits. What it will do is encourage less people to open sandwich bars to compete with Subway as Health and Saftey. labelling, risk assessments and the general cotton wool society that increasingly stifles our society takes its pernicious grip on our world. It will also discourage indivdualism and the sense of adventure for the cosseted mass produced saftey net of well labelled junk food that carries with it no risk except a future of blandness, mediocrity and boredom - all of which will be well labelled. Manchester deserves more than this.

JApril 23rd 2009.

Good point from David Fox, let people do what they want, if they are so concerned with content then most will stay away from such establishments. Alot of aggro for no reason if you ask me...lets face it, surely the majority of Subway's customers aren't that interested? Sorry, don't mean to offend.

David FoxApril 23rd 2009.

Don't buy pre prepared food in the supermarket. Everything in moderation (within reason of course!). If you have labelling in Subway, it will be the start of labelling in all food establishments. Those places that change their menus regularly will be discouraged from doing so as they will have to measure quantities on scales and add another layer of paperwork on the process. We may end up having the best labelling in the world but we will still be trying to catch up with America to be the fattest.

scoteeeApril 23rd 2009.

Planning your day better and making home cooked food is something many of us just dont do anymore. If i do need to grab a sandwich or something to fill a hole then I know I wont be killed by it.It's like most things,we eat in moderation or choose to eat crap all week and get unhealthy as a result....saying that I have had a sausage and egg butty this morning and I am fully aware of the implications of what may be in that.I really must pull my finger out this evening.

JenApril 23rd 2009.

I'd be interested to hear of an actual case of someone dying or getting very ill from eating a bit too much salt once in a while

mark mApril 23rd 2009.

Since high blood pressure is one of the biggest silent kiillers that we face today 'a bit too much salt' is more of a problem than we all think. Too many items of food that we buy in fast food joints or high class restaurants have enourmous amounts of salt or fats in. Once in a while is ok, but so many of us eat out (whether a sandwich or a 3 course meal ) 4 or 5 times a week and have no idea how much intake of salt and fat we are exposing ourselves to. Thing is, the butter that makes our sauces taste great in a restaurant and the salt that makes our fast food taste great is the very reason that we keep going back. No easy solution, and I do not believe that lables will have any impact at all.

MunchApril 23rd 2009.

high blood pressure is clearly related to poor eating choices - especially added salt in food. Subway manage to get away with murder.

AnonymousApril 23rd 2009.

most subway stores have booklets on the counter which give you the nutritional information of everything they sell, so you can check it before you buy or after... and take it away with you! Not saying they are good or bad - eat where you like - but they do provide the nutritional information.

GuiltyPleasureApril 23rd 2009.

Oh come on folks. A subway sandwich is what it is; a guilty pleasure that you know isn't going to feature in a Weight Watcher's diet. Has the nanny state conditioned us to having our hands held to such an extent that we're no longer prepared to take any personal responsibility for the kind of food we eat? I find the whole concept incredibly patronising.

jimApril 23rd 2009.

Honestly did no-one go to school? It's not exactly difficult to know what nutritional content all foods have. Get a grip everyone

tattersdeepApril 23rd 2009.

Oh I love a good meatball sub.* spam link removed *

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