The Meat and Livestock and Commission has dismissed research from a food company that claims Britons are turning their backs on the Sunday roast in favour of salads and prepared meals.

Chris Lamb, head of consumer marketing at the MLC, accused food processor Geest of working its survey through backwards, first deciding the result, then looking for evidence to support it.

In reality, the roast is alive and well, and growing in popularity, he said.

Independent research commissioned last winter among a panel of 4500 households found that 4% more people enjoyed a Sunday roast than they had in 2003.

“Consumers are trying to cook more meals from scratch both for health reasons and on social grounds,” said Mr Lamb.

“Consumer purchase data this year show purchases of potatoes, rice, pasta, gravy, sauces, fresh veg all growing.”

Yet, according to Geest, just 19% of households across the country sat down regularly to a Sunday roast, based on a survey of 1000 people.

Of those eschewing the roast, the survey claimed 55% of people were tucking into salads and fruit instead, 31% opting for “lighter, simpler” meals and 16% saying easy preparation was the key consideration.