Should Pasta Sauces come with a Health Warning?

Dolmio’s lasagne sauces - Original Tomato, Original Creamy

In the week that Mars Food advised its customers to eat certain Dolmio pasta sauces and macaroni cheese just once a week, we ask ‘should pasta sauces come with a health warning?’

The problem is with some of Dolmio’s products which contain high levels of fat, salt or sugar. Pasta sauces that are high in these substances will be classed as for ‘occasional’ consumption, whereas products with lower levels will be considered acceptable for ‘everyday’ use.

Mars Food state that around 70% of its products will fall into the ‘everyday’ category.

The announcement is part of Mars Food’s initiative to encourage a healthier way of eating, and as part of this drive, the company will publish the occasional products on their website within the next few months.

The products that consumers should be most concerned about include Dolmio Lasagne Meal Kits, Lasagne Sauces and Dolmio Oven Bake Kits.

But Dolmio are not the only culprits when it comes to excessive amounts of sugar, salt and fat in pasta sauces.


Ragu Smooth Bolognese Pasta Sauce – 7.2g sugar per 100g

Napolina Bolognese Sauce – 7.0g sugar per 100g

Seeds Of Change Organic Tomato And Basil Pasta Sauce – 6.9g sugar per 100g

ASDA Extra Special Bolognese Pasta Sauce – 6.1g sugar per 100g

Weight Watchers Roasted Garlic Cooking Pasta Sauce – 5.3g sugar per 100g

Jamie Oliver Tomato & Italian Red Wine Pasta Sauce – 5.3g sugar per 100g


Tesco Green Pesto – 31.9 fat per 100g

Sacla Sun Dried Tom Pesto – 29.3g fat per 100g

Ragu White sauce for Lasagne – 15.1g fat per 100g

Sacla Whole Cherry Tomato & Mascarpone – 13.1g fat per 100g

Sainsbury’s Pasta Sauce Carbonara – 9.7g fat per 100g

Homepride Creamy Tomato & Cheese – 6.7g fat per 100g

Mars Food has also pledged to reduce the salt in their products by 20% by 2021 and to cut the amount of added sugar in some products by 2018.

If you are concerned about the amount of fat, sugar or salt in your sauces, here are a list that have lower than average sugar contents:


Values per 100g serving

Tesco Red Lasagne Pasta Sauce 500G- 5.1g sugar

Meridian Free From Organic Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce 350g – 5g sugar

Weight Watchers Parmesan & Pesto Cooking Sauce 350g – 4.9g sugar

Essential Waitrose tomato & basil pasta sauce 555g -4.7g sugar

Recommended total daily intake for Dolmio Lasagne Meal Kits, Lasagne Sauces and Dolmio Oven Bake Kits.

Source: Dolmio/NHS

Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars’s food department, spoke to BBC News and said that the majority of the firm’s products would be “reformulated”. This means that many would be manufactured with less salt, sugar and fat.

However, she did warn that: “There will be a small set – a small exception – of our products that will sit outside it, such as pesto and our dairy-based products, like lasagne sauces.

“Consumers are saying they want the real deal when they are buying into these.”

She said instead of reducing fat, sugar and salt on these products, warnings would be placed on their packaging.

She added that consumers should have credit for knowing “what they want and what they like”, but did require “more information to make healthier choices”.

She said Mars was holding itself to a “much higher standard” and based its recommendations on advice from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dolmio Lasagne Meal Kits, Lasagne Sauces and Dolmio Oven Bake Kits.

Food health experts have welcomed the move by Mars, calling it ‘highly unusual’ but ‘very imaginative’.

Nutritionist Jenny Rosborough from Action on Sugar told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “It’s great that they are pushing forward this responsible labelling and raising awareness.

“But the challenge we have with it is that only the health conscious will look at the labels in the first place.”

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “Mars signposted their direction of travel towards healthier products several years ago and are now putting their money where their mouth is.”

Ben Reynolds, deputy co-ordinator of food and farming alliance Sustain, said:

“The truth of it is that anything that comes out of a packet, comes out of a jar that has been processed, is not going to be particularly healthy for you.

“Whether you’re making a quick pasta meal or a Sunday roast, the cheapest and healthiest way is from fresh ingredients.”

Nutritionist Laura De La Harpe told BBC Radio 5 live it should not be difficult to reduce the sugar content.

“What would concern me would be if they start adding sweeteners, artificial sweeteners to replace the sugar,” she said.

Mars will be updating its website over the next few months with the list of ‘occasional’ products and ‘everyday’ ones.

Adults are recommended to have 70g fat a day, 20g saturated fat, 90g sugar and 6g salt. per day.

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