Wendyl Wants To Know
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl wants to know: Salad days ahead - but check the sugar

Every week, Wendyl Nissen takes a readily available packaged food item and decodes what the contents label tells you

Eta Caramelised Onion Dressing $3.79 for 250ml.
Eta Caramelised Onion Dressing $3.79 for 250ml.

Summer is here and so are the salads. As summer vegetables become more plentiful there is no excuse for not preparing a salad to go with dinner every night.

But most people like to have a bit of dressing with their salad and this is where ready-made dressings come in handy.

You keep them in the fridge and simply squirt them on, but what is in them?


Water - This tells us that most of the dressing is made up of water.

Brown sugar - A little distressing that the largest ingredient after water is sugar. This is a high sugar product giving you 9.1g or just over two teaspoons per 25ml serve.

Balsamic vinegar (12%) - Wine vinegar, concentrated grape must, preservative (220). These are the ingredients for balsamic vinegar, although the one on my shelf doesn't contain a preservative, in this case sulphur dioxide (220).

Caramelised onion (6%) - To caramelise an onion you cook it on a very low heat for a long time to release the sugars in the onion and form a lovely golden brown colour.

Red wine vinegar - This is ordinary vinegar made out of red grapes.

Food acids (260, 330, 332) - These are acetic acid which is basically vinegar (260), citric acid (330) and potassium citrates (332).

Mustard seeds - These will be in here for flavouring

Stabilisers (440, 415, 407, 410) - These will be holding all the ingredients together in this liquid rather than letting them all drift to the bottom as they do in home-made salad dressing. They are pectin (440) which naturally occurs in fruit and is often used to set jam, xanthan gum (415), carrageenan (407) and locust bean gum (410) which are all naturally occurring gums.

Salt - Not too high in salt at 85mg of sodium per 25ml serve.

Mineral salts (341, 508) - These are calcium phosphate (341) and potassium chloride (508).

Preservative (202) - This is potassium sorbate (220).



My recommendations

It's a little disappointing to find that having prepared a healthy salad full of summer vegetables I would have poured two teaspoons of sugar over it before eating if I'd used this dressing.

The good thing, however, is that there is no oil in this dressing so it is very low in fat.

There isn't a lot wrong with this dressing as the stabilisers and preservatives have no health issues associated with them.

I understand the convenience of having a dressing sitting in the fridge ready to put on the table at meal times but perhaps opting for one with little or no sugar would be the way to go. There are plenty to choose from on the supermarket shelves.


• Just over 2 teaspoons of sugar per 25ml serve.

• No oil, so low fat.

• Takes 10 additives to make it behave like a dressing.

- NZ Herald

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