Meat from unknown origin in a third of sandwiches

New research from Sustain member Eating Better reveals that 33% of meat sandwiches contained meat of unknown origin and only 9% of sandwiches are vegan.

Sandwich. Photo credit: Pexels

Sandwich. Photo credit: Pexels

Last year people in Britain bought an incredible 4 billion ready-made sandwiches, at a cost of £8bn. 76% of consumers buy lunch to eat out of home for an everyday occasion. Eating Better's latest survey of sandwiches available on the high street shows that shifts by retailers in this category has the potential for a big health, environment and animal welfare impact.

Eating Better analysed the data on 620 sandwiches available from popular lunch time retailers. They found that while some retailers, particularly Pret and Tesco, have made progress in terms of diversifying their sandwich ranges to include more plant-based options. However, the sheer volume of meat-based sandwiches is a big concern. 85% of sandwiches on the market still have meat, fish or cheese as their main ingredient.

Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director, Food Foundation says:

‘Sandwiches and ready meals make up a significant part of our diet.  Only 14% of ready meals and 30% of sandwiches are meat and fish free. Replacing meat with veg is a critical part of our journey to eating better and living longer, but the supermarkets and manufacturers are not yet doing enough to help us make that journey.’

Consumers also struggle to find out where the meat in our sandwiches comes from. 33% of meat sandwiches contained meat of unknown origin. This includes all of the meat sandwiches at Boots and Subway, and the vast majority at EAT. The research found only 2 sandwiches carried any better meat certification which consumers could find helpful when making their selection.

Dr Nick Palmer, Head of Compassion in World Farming (also a member of the Sustain alliance) says: ‘This survey highlights the need for faster action by retailers. Shops that offer a clear choice of plant-based and high-welfare sandwiches will find that consumers respond, just as they did for clear labelling of eggs of free-range eggs. Surely nobody can argue that it’s good for consumers to be kept in the dark and unable to make informed choices?’


To accelerate progress, Eating Better are calling on retailers to:

  • Provide more meat-free lunch options by increasing the range of delicious plant-based sandwiches.
  • Make provenance of ingredient meat clear on packets.
  • Commit to better meat and dairy by offering products that meet a certified credible standard, such as free range.

22/05/2019
Better Food Britain

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Better Food Britain: We want everyone to be able to enjoy food that is good for our health, produced in a way that supports good livelihoods, reduced waste and greenhouse gas emissions, high animal welfare and restoration of nature. Find out how.

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