What's in your hand? If it's a doner kebab, it could be anything

4 March 2009

Doner kebab: Food of the night, satisifier of the lad, the drunk, the thug and the slut. And delightful with a little chilli sauce and a good scoop of the garlic variety. But recent investigations by local councils have put folk off their weekend ritual, because they discovered doner kebabs contain more than Larry the Lamb.

There were stories in the press concerning a new report into the contents of doner meat, but it's a question that has rarely been answered, largely because of the rules of the regulatory body. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) says that unless labeled otherwise the meat in a doner kebab must be lamb, but because takeaways are designated as restaurants, they're not obliged to present a definitive list of ingredients to customers. Ramsey doesn't have to tell you what you paid for, and neither does Kebab World II.

An blog article by Tim Bennett in 2006 attempted to uncovers the specifics of what exactly goes into that roasted column of ooze and loveliness:

Several manufacturers of doner meat were contacted - only one responded. They said that doner meat is made from lamb belly (that fattest part) and the fundamental ingredients are rusk, salt, onion powder, chopping phosphate and ground pepper. They did however say the remaining ingredients were down to the preference of the manufacturer.

The Guardian also delved into the anatomy of the doner in the same year, discovering that many kebabs are cut with something called "bobby veal" - the unwanted male calves of dairy cows. It also reported the story of a German supplier who took his own life after officials found meat up to four years old on his premises; "best-before dates had been altered, meat was frozen, defrosted, turned into doner kebabs, and then refrozen".

That wasn't an isolated instance; just a year later, a Bavarian wholesale meat producer confessed to selling nearly 200 tonnes of meat unfit for human consumption to takeaways in Germany. Yes, the Germans again; kebab is as popular there as it is in the UK.

More definitive proof was provided earlier this year, when councils around the country collected nearly 500 samples of kebab. Their report found the average doner kebab contains over 1000 calories - nearly half the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) for men - and that's before you make with the sauces. Mmm. Garlic.

The worst examples contain 80 per cent of the calorie GDA for a man, 136 per cent of their GDA for fat and 235 per cent of their GDA for saturated fats. The worst offender contained 277 per cent of the recommended daily salt intake for adults. Spectacular.

But it gets better; barely a third of the kebabs tested contained only "sheepmeat" - a worrying term in itself. Some didn't even have sheep in them:

So to sum up, then; if you want to know what's in a doner kebab, pick any two animals at random. And if you're in Germany, assume it was fit to eat sometime before the last war.


  • Coupey
    It's the 8.7% where they couldn't figure out what it was at all that worries me!
  • Paul S.
    I think that was tiger. Compiling this has put me off doner kebab for life. Until the next time I'm drunk and hungry.
  • Joff
    That list of ingredients has made me hungry... mmm non-specific meat doner... nom nom!
  • Chris
    Well, when I started reading I assumed it was going to be 50% squirrel or something, so I was a little relieved by the bottom of the page.
  • Craig
    I'm fascinated by the "no result" bit, guess that leaves it open to Cat, Dog, Rat etc. Reminds me of a tale a friend told me, he was out with friends at an Indian restaurant and someone ordered a "meat" curry, when one guy asked what kind of "meat" was in it, the waiter replied..... "meat"!! Bemused, they asked to see the chef, who also replied... "meat" and produced a large tin, labelled.... "meat" the mind boggles!!!
  • Paul S.
    I've enjoyed a similar fascination with meat pies.
  • Steve O.
    Craig...I think "meat" is usually applied to beef. Not sure why, but there you go.
  • Jassen
    Damn, most people don't care about the meat in a doner after a night out. It's still one of the best things to have after a belly load of drinks. Yum. P.S, I love Craig's story, sounds like a sketch out of The Simpsons lol
  • -=Mike H.
    "No Result" i.e. could be fucking any animal that they do not have samples for i.e. dog, cat, rat, penguin, giraffe, or a combination of all of them! Shit, I know I am killing myself eating a shit load of fat, but FFS, you should have a choice if you want to eat Fido or Mr. Tibbles, or any other animal that happens to be wandering by at the time, when there are hungry pissed up students to feed!
  • Ed'I
    Im sure i found a hamsters foot in my kebab the other day........lol. Tasted awesome. The truth is though the average british pub go'er would be at a lost cause without the ritual Friday night belly buster. To be honest who really cares whats in the classic shant absorber, abused by millions every weekend. Long the live the doner, a food relic in its own right.
  • kipper
    I am in the food industry(pub) and when we had a visit from the EHO the other week I asked her what she thought of the local Kebab Vans and her reply was "W have no complaints about the vans and the Kebab Meat,We have checked at least 10 in the area and have found NO trace of Meat in any of the Skewers tested".......W T F Have I been eating then.
  • mihan r.
    i am fucking never gona eat meat again in my life i cant belive people feed other people this shiti recon someone should go on the news or somthin about this i mean its not right feedin us stuff like cat dog tiger hamster penguin ect is it if u can file a complaint
  • kashem
    mohed rahman is a gay boy hes my cus and he thinks i like him
  • Xenia H.
    boil it first to make it firmer
  • Saorma 9.
    [...] nu ? Si ne mai gandim de ce nu mai e muschiulet. Donner = Profituri astronomice, calitate minima. What’s in your hand? If it’s a doner kebab, it could be anything | BitterWallet What are the ingredients of takeaway doner meat? Reply With [...]
  • Olivia
    My friend Rachel has just told me her friend has found a dog identity chip in her doner kebab whilst in the middle of eating it. I feel physically sick. I very rarely eat these and if I do I have a few bites as I can't hack much more but I can safely say I will never be touching these things again :|
  • alex
    I like a good monkey burger
  • Rhi
    I think this is disgusting. Why call it lamb meat if it's doner meat which is not lamb but intact all of the above listed animals. Iam greatly put off from eating any kind of doner meat. If doner meat is not lamb it should be specified.

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