Excess use of sodium:
Campbell’s is like the Microsoft of the soup world. The company dominates the soup business, but it’s products…well…taste like crap.
Their soups are at best bland and mushy. Some contain so much salt that they’re the human equivalent of a salt lick. For example, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup provides a whopping 890 mg of sodium per serving, and 2,225 grams of sodium for a standard 10.75-ounce can.
Spiking products with monosodium glutamate (MSG):
Campbell’s now owns Swanson, the maker of various chicken broths and stocks. Until recently, Swanson spiked its tasteless products with monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer. But MSG is well documented as a cause of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.
I’m not joking. Every Chinese restaurant used to boost the flavor of its meals by adding MSG. But a fair number of customers complained of neck and muscle aches afterwards, the result of MSG. So now, a lot of Chinese restaurants don’t use MSG anymore.
But I digress.
All ingredients not listed:
Swanson recently introduced organic chicken, beef, and vegetable broths. Sounds like a great idea, right?
Well, on the company’s web site, the Swanson folks fess up to the fact that their broths contain 550 mg of sodium for each one-cup serving. A typical bowl of soup would contain about two cups, so that would add up to 1,100 mg of sodium. And maybe one blood-pressure cuff.
But no where on the Swanson website is a full listing of the products’ other ingredients. Ditto for the Campbell website. This is more than just peculiar, because even such junk-food hustlers as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks list all of the ingredients in all of their products on their websites. (For example, a venti-size Starbucks banana coconut frappuccino with whipped cream provides 730 calories, including a quarter-pound of sugars.)
So that left me wondering what Swanson and Campbell might be hiding.
So I clicked to contact customer service and wrote a brief email asking for a complete list of ingredients for the Swanson Organic Chicken Broth. Sounds simple enough, right?
A few days later, [email protected] responded:
“All of our products have nutritional labels that include the calorie, sodium, fat, cholesterol and carbohydrate content for a single serving. However, it is important to note that product recipes change frequently and ingredients are periodically added or replaced. Therefore, we suggest that you check each package for the most current nutritional information…
“I hope I’ve been able to answer your question. Please contact the Consumer Response Center or visit Campbell’s website if you have additional questions.”
So I wrote back and said that they had NOT answered my question. And I also wondered, adding a list of full ingredients to the website can’t be all that difficult, could it? After all, it’s got to be easier to update a web page compared with…say, reformulating the ingredients in an industrial-size soup manufacturing facility.
Finally I went to both my local supermarket and Whole Foods, but did not find Swanson’s organic broths on the shelf. So their ingredients remain a mystery to me.
And after all this, I’m left wondering: Why couldn’t Campbell’s just be more up front about their ingredients and list them on the company’s website. Unless they really want to hide what’s in them.