Ready meals 'better for you than some recipes created by likes of Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson'

TV chefs' recipes found to contain more calories than TV dinners in leading supermarkets

Jamie Oliver has long championed the importance of healthy, nutritious dinners.

Yet the 30 Minute Meals creator is one of a number of TV chefs who've come under fire in a new study, which claims ready meals are healthier than many of their recipes.

Jamie Oliver was one of the TV chefs that came under fire in the new researchNew research found that the nutritional content found in some of their meals contain "significantly more" fat, saturated fat and less fibre per portion than ready meals available in Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco.

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In fact, the TV chefs' recipes were more likely to achieve red traffic light labels than the ready meals tested.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, compared 100 main meals from four TV chefs who had recipe books at the top of the bestseller charts to 100 supermarket ready meals.

Researchers said some of the recipes by TV chefs would be given a red traffic light label ©RexThese were then compared to the World Health Organisation's nutritional guidelines.

Researchers revealed: "Meals based on television chef recipes were less healthy than ready meals.

"Significantly fewer were within the recommended ranges for fibre density and percentage of energy derived from carbohydrate and fat, and per portion they contained significantly more energy, protein, fat and saturated fat, and significantly less fibre.

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"The recipes were also more likely to achieve red traffic light labels according to the criteria of the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA)."

A spokesman for Jamie Oliver said: "We welcome any research which raises debate on these issues and in fact Jamie's most recent book, 15 Minute Meals, does contain calorie content and nutritional information per serving for every dish.


"We will soon also be re-launching the Jamie Oliver website with nutritional information on the recipes. However, we would regard the key issue to be food education so that people are aware of which foods are for every day and which are treats to be enjoyed occasionally."

The research was carried out by a team from NHS Tees and Newcastle University, which based it on the 30 Minute Meals and Ministry Of Food by Jamie Oliver, Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale, Nigella Lawson's Kitchen and River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

The authors suggest that TV chefs who create unhealthy meals should be subjected to a 9pm watershed.

They also state that recipe books should contain more nutritional guidance, such as those portrayed on the front of many food products.

A spokesman for Tesco said: "We have been cutting levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat across our ranges since 2005 and none of our own-brand products contain artificial trans fats or artificial colours or flavours."

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman added: "We continue to reduce salt, saturated fat, fat and sugar in our own-brand products and take the lead on providing clear nutritional information, enabling our customers to make informed choices."