Wendyl Wants to Know: Big Ben Classic Cheese Sausage Roll

Long Lunch 02/07/2018
Photo: Stock

Wendyl Wants to Know what's in Big Ben Classic Cheese Sausage Rolls - by Wendyl Nissen.
Sausage rolls are the sort of thing you eat on the run. A quick, hot snack to tide you over and for some people, like me, a rare treat to be smelled first, then eaten slowly and luxuriously, knowing full well that the next sausage roll will be a long way, away.

Because of this not many people are going to make them from scratch. Instead they’ll buy them from a bakery, or in this case buy them from the supermarket freezer and cook in the microwave in a couple of minutes.

When I cooked this I knew something was up with the smell. It was extremely unpleasant, and smelled like I had heated up an old stew which had been sitting on top of the stove for a week. And when I tasted it, well it went straight into the bin.

How could this be?

Big Ben Classic Cheese Sausage Roll. $1.59 for 170g.
Ingredients ( in order of greatest quantity first):

Wheat flour
This is a standard ingredient for puff pastry so no surprises here.


Beef (15%)
I am a little surprised that there is so little beef in here. Sausages must have 50% meat to qualify as a sausage so this tells me that a lot of the “meat” in here is filler.

Margarine (vegetable oil, water, salt, emulsifiers [471,322], acidity regulators [500,330],antioxidant [306],colour [160a soy])
No butter here, instead a chemical mix of additives to be a butter replacement including colour, emulsifiers and preservatives.

Mozarella cheese (3%) [milk, salt, starter cultures)
Again, not a lot of cheese here. In fact at 3% that means in this 170g sausage roll there is only 5.1g or about a teaspoon of cheese in here.


This is a very high salt product at 1530mg of sodium. The daily recommended amount of sodium is between 930 and 2300mg per adult.

Milk solids
These are what’s left of milk once the water has been removed and will be in here to pad out the cheese component.

Cheese flavour (0.7%)
Why would you use cheese flavour instead of cheese? In my opinion using cheese flavour saves the producer money and makes this a much cheaper product to make.

Flavour enhancers (621,631,627)
And here we have MSG (621) along with disodium inosinate (631) and disodium guanylate (627).  Healthy eaters avoid all three because some people who eat MSG experience burning sensations, numbness, chest pain, headache, nausea and asthma.  Both disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate are present in nature, but there is some doubt about how these additives are produced on an industrial scale.

Not too much sugar in here, you’ll get 6 grams just over 1 teaspoon per roll.

Acidity regulators (331,327,270,263,341)
These are sodium citrates (331),  calcium lactate (327), lactic acid (270), calcium acetate (263), and calcium phosphates (341). Quite surprising to see so many in here, their role is to basically keep the acidity levels of the product stable.

Mineral salts ( 451,500,339,450)
Minerals salts are put into food to flavour, but also as a preservative and texture preserver. These are diphosphates (451), baking soda (500), sodium phosphate (339) and diphosphates (450).

Soy protein
This is in here to fill out the meat component of the roll and provide protein.

Thickeners (466, 412)
These are sodium carboxy-methyl-cellulose (466) and guar gum (412). These will help thicken the meat mixture but also fill it out.

Baker’s yeast

Vegetable powder
This is probably in here for flavour.

This is a form of sugar.

Preservative (223)
This is sodium metabisulphite (223)  which should be avoided by people with an allergy to sulphur.

Colour (160b)
This is annatto which is a natural dye.

Antioxidant (316)
This is sodium erythorbate which is produced from beetroot and sugarcane and used as a preservative in oil.

Vegetable oil
Not sure what oil is used in here.

Spice extracts

Vegetable fibre
I can only think that this vegetable fibre is in here as a filler.

Soy flour
This may be in the pastry or more likely in the meat mixture as a filler.

Wheat gluten
Not sure what this is doing in here.

Emulsifiers (481,472e,471)
These are sodium lactylate (481), fatty acid esters of glycerol (472e) and mono and diglycerides of fatty acids (471). These work to maintain texture in frozen goods.

My recommendations:
I found myself getting increasingly angry as I analysed this product. Why would it take 44 ingredients to make a sausage roll, which if I made it at home would take just eight ingredients? Four for the pastry and four for the filling.

The only reason I can imagine that this sausage roll needs emulsifiers, antioxidants, acidity regulators, preservative, colour, thickeners, mineral salts, flavour enhancers and fillers is because it’s got very little real food in it. Thus it must be chemically tweaked for flavour with additives and filled to make up for the lack of it. And, in my opinion, it’s a very cheap product for it’s producers which is reflected in the price. Best pay more and get the real deal from a reputable bakery.   

·      Takes 44 ingredients to make something you’d use 8 ingredients to make at home.
·      Only 15% real meat and 4% real cheese.
·      Uses emulsifiers, antioxidants, acidity regulators, preservative, colour, thickeners, mineral salts, flavour enhancers and fillers – none of which you’d find in a recipe book.

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.