Can a sausage roll count as a portion of veg?

Campden BRI’s food product development scientist, Rachel Gwinn, explains how changing recipes can make even traditionally unhealthy items a source of health claims.

18 March 2019
healthmeet the expertnutritionreformulationvegetables

Meet the Expert

Who: Rachel Gwinn

What: Food product development scientist

Where: Campden BRI


Only 27% of adults in the UK consume their recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but around a quarter of a billion sausage rolls are eaten by Brits every year. 

Comprising sheets of flaky pastry wrapped around a sausage meat filling which is glazed and then baked, it’s easy to see why sausage rolls are popular: they are tasty – hot or cold – and can be eaten as part of a main meal or enjoyed as an on-the-go snack.

Wrapping meat with bread or pastry has been a practice for millennia, but sausage rolls, as we know them, most likely originated in France and came to Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. They are now part of our national diet.

Could this everyday product be adapted to help consumers meet their five-a-day target?

Why encourage five a day?

The potential benefits of eating five portions, or more than 400g, of fruit and vegetables per day include reducing the risks of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, and the high fibre content of fruit and vegetables is linked to improved gut health.

As this food group is low in calories and fats, its increased consumption in the population could also help to combat the current obesity epidemic.

How can a sausage roll count as one of five a day?

A study at food and drink research company Campden BRI redeveloped a traditional pork sausage roll, a product that is perceived as being unhealthy (high in fat, low in fibre, vitamins and minerals), and boosted its nutritional content to try and achieve a ‘one of your five a day’ claim.

For a product to make a five-a-day claim, it must meet certain criteria:

  • There must be an appropriate variety of fruit and vegetables in the product
  • It must be an acceptable portion size
  • Disqualifying criteria for sugars, saturated fats and salts must not be exceeded

A series of tools were used to screen concepts, develop samples and then assess their acceptability by consumers. From this work, two sausage roll products were developed – one using filo pastry and one using a reduced-fat puff pastry. The sausage rolls incorporated cooked and dried sweet potatoes and dried tomato flakes.

Tests and claims

Both the puff pastry and filo pastry sausage rolls were tested by consumers. The findings from these tests highlighted that they had a slight preference for the puff pastry variant.

Unfortunately, the puff pastry sausage roll could not qualify for a five-a-day claim due to the saturated fat levels. However, it may still be considered healthier than an average sausage roll due to the lower overall levels of fats and saturated fats, as well as the higher levels of fibre.

The filo pastry sausage roll, however, was able to meet the criteria for claims related to five a day, source of fibre, source of protein and reduced fat.

The sausage roll also fitted three of the biggest food trends for 2019: hidden fruit and veg, healthier to-go snacks and flexitarian diets, in which people eat a mainly plant-based diet.

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