Restaurants and cafes waste £3 billion worth of food every year — 75 per cent of which could have been eaten.
So this month, the Waste and Resources Action Programme urged that people should be served smaller portions of chips — everywhere from Michelin-starred restaurants to High Street chip shops.
The Government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion, Ben Elliot, said: ‘This campaign brilliantly shines a light on the food waste epidemic.’
So to help cut food waste and trim your waistline, ETAN SMALLMAN has investigated exactly what you get in a portion of chips, from local chippies to big chains — and put them to the all-important Daily Mail taste test . . .
The Daily Mail’s Etan Smallman has investigated chips from local chippies and big chains to help you cut food waste and trim your wasteline
Oil Slick – McDonald’s medium fries
Number of chips: 48
Nutrition: 337 calories and 0.6g of salt per portion
Slender, yellow fries made from a mix of potatoes: Pentland Dell, Russet Burbank, Innovator, Shepody and Ivory Russet, with added dextrose (an artificial sweetener made from corn.) Fried in rapeseed and sunflower oil.
McDonald’s says a serving should weigh 114g. Our sample was 84g — 26 per cent lighter.
Price: £1.09 or 2.3p per chip
Taste test: These are the most uniform-looking of the lot — bright yellow, thin and wonderfully crispy. But there is no potato flavour, merely an overwhelming taste of oil and salt.
McDonald’s medium fries contained 48 chips and tasted of oil and salt with no taste of potato
King of Cardboard – Burger King medium fries
Number of chips: 61
Nutrition: 280 calories and 0.58g of salt per portion
Burger King prides itself on fries that are thicker than those at McDonald’s. A serving should weigh 116g. Our sample was 169g — a whole 46 per cent heavier.
Price: £2.09 or 3.4p per chip
Taste test: These bright yellow fries taste almost as processed as they look. They are the least salty — though you can of course add your own — meaning oil is the overriding flavour. They have a nice crispness, but taste cardboardy after a few mouthfuls.
Burger Kind medium fries were described as the ‘King of Cardboard’ as, although they contain the least salt, oil is the overriding flavour
Squidgy Spuds – KFC regular fries
Number of chips: 47
Nutrition: 250 calories and 0.5g of salt per portion
KFC uses four unnamed types of potato fried in vegetable oil. A serving should weigh 115g. Our sample was 125g — 9 per cent heavier.
Price: £1.29 or 2.7p per chip
Taste test: These orange-hued chips have bits of potato peel on them, which is perhaps why you can actually taste some of the vegetable. They have a medium crispness and a squidgy middle, but are not that moreish because of the strong taste of oil.
KFC regular fries have a taste that has a hint of potato, possibly due to the peel still on the fries. Their texture is medium crispness with a squidy middle
Peanut Power – Five Guys regular fries
Number of chips: 152
Nutrition: 1,019 calories and 1.6g of salt per portion
Just three ingredients: unpeeled potatoes, peanut oil and salt. Using peanut oil is said to allow the chips to be heated to a higher temperature, ‘locking in flavour and freshness’. Servings come ‘with an extra scoop after the cup is full. Every time’. A typical serving should weigh 376g. Our sample was 326g — 13 per cent underfilled.
Price: £4.75 or 3.1p per chip
Taste test: These orange-edged chips are super-crisp on the outside, and nice and mushy on the inside. The peanut oil gives a subtle, but pleasant, flavour and makes them incredibly moreish with no greasy aftertaste.
Five Guys’ regular fries taste super-crisp on the outside but have a nice and mushy inside with peanut oil giving a subtle, but pleasant, flavour
Spicy Circles – Leon baked fries
Number of chips: 12
Nutrition: 302 calories and 1.3g of salt per portion
Round waffle-shaped fries made with different spuds based on their seasonality. (Leon is currently using Challenger). They’re cooked in sunflower oil and contain modified starch, cornflour, rice flour, onion powder, yeast extract, dextrose and xanthan gum (a thickening agent). A typical serving should be 100g. Our sample was 109g — 9 per cent overfilled.
Price: £2.45 or 20p per chip
Taste test: These are deep orange on the outside and pale yellow on the inside. They are crispy and packed with flavour — with a hint of spice — but they taste surprisingly processed for a chain whose slogan is ‘naturally fast food’.
Leon’s baked fries come as round shaped waffles. They are deep orange and are packed with flavour with a hint of spice
Variety Pack – Nando’s regular chips
Number of chips: 53
Nutrition: 465 calories and 0.7g of salt per portion
Made from different varieties of potato throughout the year, including Premiere, Fontane, Cabaret, Maris Piper and Royal. Fried in rapeseed oil. A typical serving should weigh 180g. Our sample was 198g — 10 per cent overfilled.
Price: £2.60 or 5p per chip
Taste test: These are the least consistent of all we tasted — some are crisp, others soggy. Some are orange in colour, while others are more brown. They look more natural, but the oily aftertaste is unpleasant. They are a bit of a halfway house — if you want uniform crispness, go for one of the burger chains; if you want chunky stodginess, go for the chippie.
Nando’s regular chips are described as having a highly inconsistent taste. Some are crisp while others are soggy
Pale Perfection – Byron french fries
Number of chips: 98
Nutrition: not provided
These long and thin chips, the palest of the bunch, were also the most beautifully presented, wrapped in brown paper in a compact cardboard box. Byron does not provide a guideline weight. Our sample was 169g.
Price: £3 or 3p per chip
Taste test: These fries are a paler yellow than your typical fast-food chain variety. They also have a lightness of flavour and a more wholesome taste. You get a hint of salt and of oil, but you can actually taste the potato. A perfect balance of crispiness and chewiness.
Byron’s french fries don’t provide any nutritional information and have a more wholesome taste than other chips on offer on the high street
Full on Flavour – Pizza Express polenta chips
Number of chips: 10
Nutrition: 454 calories and 2.7g of salt per portion
These Italian polenta chips (using cornmeal, not potatoes) are speckled with rosemary and served with a honey and mustard dip. They’re oven-baked, so no cooking oil is used. A typical serving should weigh 208g. Our sample was 133g — 36 per cent underfilled.
Price: £4.80 or 48p per chip
Taste test: They are cooked to perfection, with a nice crisp outside and a slightly grainy filling. They are among the most flavoursome and come with optional Parmesan sprinkled on top.
Pizza Express polenta chips are cooked to perfection with a nice crisp outside and slightly grainy filling
Spuddy good – Fisherman’s Hut fish and chips, London W12, regular chips
Number of chips: 124
Nutrition: Not provided
These hearty chips from a London chippie are likely to be lower in fat because the larger surface area means they absorb less oil. Customers can add as much or as little salt as they like. There is no guideline weight. Our sample was 603g.
Price: The cheapest in our test. £1.50 or 1.2p per chip
Taste test: These are the most pallid out of our selection, but the chips are hearty, chunky and there is a satisfying contrast between the crisp exterior and the mushy goodness within. They feel less oily in the mouth.
Fisherman’s Hut fish and chips are described as tasting the most pallid out of all the chips, although they are hearty, chunky and satisfying in contrast to their exterior
Cheap as Chips – London Best Kebab, London W12, regular chips
Number of chips: 92
Nutrition: Not provided
These mid-size fries fall between the fast-food chains and the chippie in terms of thickness. Uniform in shape, golden in colour and the second-cheapest we tested. There is no guideline weight. Our sample was 304g.
Price: £1.30 or 1.4p per chip
Taste test: These are lovely and crisp, uniform in shape and golden in colour. The texture of the soft potato is pleasing, but the oil is the flavour that comes through the strongest.
A pack of chips from your local chippy, in this case London Best Kebab in W12, could have a strong oily flavour
And finally… How to make a healthy chip
If YOU’RE making home-cooked chips, use an air-fryer rather than a deep-fat appliance. These gadgets combine a tiny amount of oil with hot air to give a perfectly cooked low-fat chip. The Tefal ActiFry Genius (£180, johnlewis.com) has a chips setting and stirs them for you during cooking.
To cram in more vitamins and fibre, consider alternatives to potatoes. Try carrot and parsnip fries (£1.99, ocado.com), Strong Roots Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries (2.99, waitrose.com) or Aunt Bessie’s Vegetable Chips (£2.50, sainsburys.co.uk).
Plus, make sure your condiments pass muster. Heinz sells a ketchup with 50 per cent less salt and sugar, and one with none added at all. Dr Will’s tomato ketchup (£3.49 at Ocado) is sweetened with dates. It has 66 calories per 100g (compared with 102 calories in standard Heinz), 11.6g of sugar (22.8g in Heinz) and 0.6g of salt (1.8g in Heinz).