BURGER bar giants serve healthier food than their independent competitors, but mainly because they offer smaller burgers, says consumer watchdog Which?.
The fat content in burgers from independent burger bars averaged 19g per burger. This compares with relatively low figures from the smallest burgers in large chains: McDonald's (8g) and Burger King (12g).
But researchers found that size varied "enormously". When they asked for the smallest burger in each outlet they found that one was nearly four times that of another. The least healthy fast-food option was the doner kebab, which contained up to 81g of fat.
Nutritional damage in the frying process depends on the type of fat used. All the major chains used vegetable fats which contain fewer saturates. But most other burger bars used solid oils, containing the type of fats thought to increase the risk of heart disease.
Although hygiene was generally good, the report found a pizza slice from Pizza Hut with low levels of the food-poisoning bacteria Clostridium perfringens and 12 doner kebabs and three burgers, including one from McDonald's, containing bacteria known as coliforms.
Of the pizza slices examined, Pizza Hut Express had the highest fat content (10g). All the Pizza Hut slices were topped with real cheese but nine independent outlets used analogue cheese which contained less fat and saturates.
"You might not be getting what you think you paid for, but there's a slight bonus on the fat front," said the report.