Doner Kebabs – what’s really in them?

Doner kebabs are a popular take-out food in the UK. The seasoned brown meat is often served in a pitta bread with salad. But not a lot of people are fully sure of what the meat is made from. We have a look at some of the findings..

What's in Doner Kebabs

They need to label kebab meat correctly in terms of its real contents

After a partying night out, the one thing that most people enjoy in the UK is a Doner Kebab from the nearest late-night take-away.

Interestingly, its been discovered by the UK Trading Standards authority that the ingredients of these kebabs are not always as assumed by consumers of this popular fast-food.

The Doner Kebab is also called a donair, döner or donner kebab. Many believe that this brown coloured,  spit-roasted, thinly sliced meat, is primarily made from re-processed lamb with some seasoning.

Meat used for making Doner Kebab meat may be lamb, beef, veal or chicken but not pork. It is sometimes very difficult to taste what the kebab meat is actually made from due to the flavouring. When it is served in pitta bread with salad, with chips or on its own and smothered in a tasty sauce such as chilli, mint yogurt or garlic mayonnaise; it makes it even more hard to determine the true taste.

Doner Kebab meatMostly in the UK, this kebab is enjoyed after a night out drinking especially at the weekend, when large portions are eaten. Many non-drinkers too love it as a Friday night treat or frequently as a main meal.




Eaters of halal meat eat these kebabs from outlets serving specifically halal Doner Kebabs.  So, in all, this take-out food is hugely in demand.

However, a Trading Standards investigation has found that Doner Kebabs  served by the fast-food shops do not always contain the meat as stated on the label from suppliers. After investigating the kebab meat, they  found that in 15% of the cases the meat was not all lamb as stated on the label but contained beef and in 6 cases pork was also found in the meat.

In the case of the beef found in the meat, this would not please South Asian meat eaters who do not eat beef on religious or cultural grounds, and the latter finding of pork, would certainly violate rules followed by Muslims who do not eat pork in any form. Therefore, these findings will most likely be a shock to Brit-Asian people who eat these kebabs.

The Trading Standards cannot blame the serving outlets for the misleading consumers and feel that the problem lies with the manufacturers. They need to label kebab meat correctly in terms of its real contents with percentages. The current laws governing this area are not clear so the Trading Standards will have to work with the manufacturers to develop and improve the guidelines to address this problem.

Doner KebabIn addition, the investigation has found that these kebabs also have an extremely high salt content. In one case, a particular kebab was found to contain 14.7 grams of salt, more than twice the guideline daily amount of 6g.

Also, the fat content is very high and 117.2 grams of fat was found, which is well over the guideline daily amount of 95g for men and 70g for woman. This is equal to about one wine glass of cooking oil.

Calories wise it is nearly 2000 calories per kebab serving, which exceeds the daily amount of 1940 calories for women and is not too far off the daily amount of 2500 calories for men.

A Food Hygiene report produced by Glasgow Council, further to reviewing a Doner Kebab outlet in Glasgow, found that during the inspection it was observed that certain pre-packed Doner Kebabs were being delivered without sufficient labelling information. There was no information as to whether the meat was chicken, lamb or other.

From a health point of view,  questions are also raised about what aspects of the animal the Doner Kebab meat is made from and also how it is served daily.

Much speculation surrounds the ingredients of Doner Kebab meat, including it being made from surplus lamb off-cuts, offal, feet, ears, tongues and other unusual parts not found at a high street butcher shop. When the manufacturers make the kebab meat, it is heavily spiced and re-formed into a cylinder shape, therefore, making it literally impossible to determine what parts of the animal the meat comes from or even which animals it is made from.

With regards to serving of Doner Kebabs, the slices of kebab meat are carved from the rotating cylinder of meat which are heated by a circular spit behind the meat. This means that the same meat is reheated and reheated daily, until the cylinder of meat finishes. Which implies that this does not make the meat healthy to consume due to to its re-heating or method of storage.

Whether these findings will put off people from eating Donor Kebabs is another thing because it will always be a major part of a night out but it is becoming evident that no one fully knows what is really in Donor Kebabs despite claims from manufacturers, and whether the labelling for such food will ever improve.

Nazhat is a woman on a mission to reveal many different aspects of 'Desiness.' With interests in fashion, cooking and keeping fit, she describes herself as a bright and chic 'Desi' lady who lives by the motto 'survival of the fittest...'


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