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Chinese takeaway: Fat warning as prawn cracker portion has one third of day’s calories

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A PORTION of prawn crackers from a Chinese takeaway amounts to one third of an entire day's recommended calorie intake.

And the average portion of egg fried rice contained 727 calories - more than a third of an adults' guideline daily amount.

Chinese food is the single most popular style of takeaway and restaurant food in Ireland.

But a typical meal of starter, main course and fried rice can be significantly more calories than an adult needs for one day.

And researchers have found that the contents of this meal can contain up to one-and-a-half times more than the recommended levels of salt.

The shocking facts are unveiled in a new report from Safefood called "What's in your Chinese Takeaway?" which aims to help consumers make more informed choices when eating outside the home.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of Human Health & Nutrition at Safefood said that Chinese dishes in takeaways and restaurants have gradually become calorie-laden.

"Although traditional Chinese food is healthy, being low in fat and with a strong emphasis on vegetables, chefs here have adapted their recipes to suit local taste buds as their dishes have become more popular," he said.

"With our taste buds in the West favouring foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar and because we eat bigger portions, Chinese dishes have become less healthy over time."

Dr Foley-Nolan said that it was encouraging that almost 62pc of people regard Chinese takeaway as a treat, but portion sizes are "unnecessarily generous and not healthy".

An average portion (104g) of prawn crackers contains 608 calories, almost a third of an adults' guideline daily amount.

"Consumer research tells us that more than half of consumers choose egg fried rice and we know that a main dish served with this can result in a person consuming between 1300 and 1800 calories," Dr Foley Nolan said.

"And that's before we even begin to consider all the other foods we've eaten during the day."

The organisation said that there were ways to enjoy Chinese food in a healthy and satisfying way but avoiding snacking on prawn crackers, opting for healthier starters such as soups and choose main dishes that contain plenty of vegetables, lean meant and sauces such as bean, oyster, ginger or plum.

Safefood also recommended eating with chopsticks as it will encourage you to eat slower, and as a consequence more than likely eat less.

The research, which sampled 220 Chinese meal items from 35 outlets in Ireland, also found that there was a major difference in the portion size of starters sold, the average rice portion was 359g which is sufficient for two adults and salt levels were considerably high, in some instances exceeding an adults' total guideline daily amount.