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: Defrost and eat or get Nigella to help you out


My daughter picked this up in the supermarket to take to a sleepover. Apparently they are the must-have offering for hungry teenage girls in the middle of the night.

I have yet to meet a child who doesn't like a frozen cheesecake and, to be honest, they are very easy to prepare.

All you do is take them out of the freezer to defrost.

But the bright red colour sent my artificial-colour alarm off, as many processed foods with the colour red resist the use of natural colours.

Foods like this also take a lot of additives to maintain their texture, colour and taste once frozen and thawed.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):

Cheesecake filling (57%)

• Water

• Cheese curd (14%) (from milk) - Curd is produced as part of the cheese making process. It forms after rennet or something acidic is added to milk.

Vegetable oils (palm, coconut) - Two oils in here, some people object to palm oil, but good to see coconut being used in here.

White chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, whey powder (from milk), emulsifier (322 (from soy)), natural flavour) - These are standard ingredients for white chocolate. The emulsifier is lecithin (322).

Sugar - The sugar content in this cake is high at 16.7g per 60g serving which works out at nearly 4 teaspoons per serve.

Butter (cream (from milk), salt) - Fat content is also high at 10.2g per 60g serve or 17% of the total product.

Condensed milk - This is evaporated milk.


Milk powder (skim, whole)

Glucose syrup - This is another form of sweetener in a liquid form.

Dextrose - And so is this.

Modified starch (1442) - This will be in here as a thickener and it is hydroxyl-propyl distarch phosphate.

Whey powder (from milk) - This is also what is left over when making cheese and curds form. It is high in protein.

Emulsifiers (471, 472a, 472e) - These are mono and diglycerides of fatty acids (471), and fatty acid esters of glycerol (472a and 472e).

Stabilisers (407, 410, 412) - These are carrageenan (407) which is a gel obtained from red seaweeds, locust bean gum (410) and guar gum (412).

Flavour - This will be artificial flavour.

Milk protein

Thickeners (401, 339, 450, 516, 415) - These are sodium alginate (401), sodium phosphates (339), diphosphates (450), calcium sulphate (516) and xanthan gum (415).

Salt - This product isn't too high in salt at 63mg of sodium per 60g serve.

Strawberry Topping (22%)

Sugar - Sugar content as above.


Glucose syrup

Strawberries (9%) - Good to see some natural food in here in the form of strawberries. Even if it is only 9%.

Gelling agent (440) - This is pectin which is used when making jam to help it set.

Flavour - This will be artificial flavour.

Acidity regulator (330) - This is citric acid.

Crumb base - Biscuit crumbs (wheat flour, vegetable oil (palm), sugar, golden syrup salt). These are standard ingredients for a normal biscuit.

Granulated sugar See sugar content above.

Margarine (water, vegetable oil (palm), salt, acidity regulator (330), colour (160a), sugar, flavour) - It's a shame to see margarine in here as it has added colour, sugar and artificial flavour which you wouldn't get with butter. The colour carotene is at least natural.

Breadcrumbs (wheat flour, salt)

Sugar See sugar content above.

Dextrose - Another form of sugar.

Modified starch (1414) - This is acetylated distarch phosphate which is a starch treated with phosphorus oxychloride and acetic acid.

Whey powder (from milk) - As above.

Glucose syrup - As above.

Vegetable oil (palm) - As above.

Emulsifier (472a) - As above.

Thickeners (401, 339, 450, 516, 415) - The thickeners in this base are all the same as the ones used in the filling.

My recommendations

The good news is that I couldn't find any artificial colours in this product. The strawberry topping relied on real strawberries for the colour and the orange biscuit base used natural carotene colour in the margarine.

The bad news is that there are artificial flavourings and the entire 360g cake takes 42 ingredients taking into account the repeat appearances on the ingredients label of salt, sugar, water, glucose etc.

To make this yourself using a Nigella Lawson recipe I found online, you would use biscuits (5 ingredients), butter (2 ingredients), cream cheese, sugar, vanilla flavouring, cream and 2 pots of strawberry jam (3 ingredients) and some strawberries so that's a total of 15 ingredients.

Gone are the many emulsifiers, thickeners, syrups, margarine, artificial flavours, acidity regulators, stabilisers, modified starch and vegetable oils.

- NZ Herald

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