I sent the following letter to Heinz Canada after almost buying a can of their soup, but then putting it back because of the alarming sodium levels. Their answer follows…
My email to Heinz:
“Can you please tell me why your soups have so much sodium? I almost bought your Southwestern vegetable soup today but then I saw the label and put it back. 820mg of sodium in a 60 cal serving? Wow! Im not sure Ive ever seen another food that is so sodium dense. Seriously! So 3% of daily calories has 34% of daily sodium?
Id love to hear how you can call this healthy.
To give you some perspective, the Health Canada recommended daily intake is between 1000 and 1500 mg (Health Canada). Even more shocking is that this “Healthy” soup has almost twice as much sodium as a Large order of french fries (420mg) at McDonalds (McDonalds nutrition calculator).
Here is the response I received from Heinz Canada:
“Hello Ms. Vaino,
Thank you for contacting us. Heinz Canada is proud to be celebrating our 100th year anniversary of producing healthy foods in Canada for Canadian consumers.
We agree that it is important to understand, and limit, the amount of salt consumed as part of a healthy diet. One of the recommendations of the Canada Food Guide is to limit foods high in salt (sodium). In addition, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check program in Canada has established sodium limits for various food groups and you will find their logo on Heinz products including tomato juice, Garden Select Pasta sauces and a variety of Heinz Beans which demonstrates our commitment to providing consumers with healthy choices.
We share your concerns about sodium content in food. That’s why, as part of our global health and wellness commitment, Heinz is focused on sodium reductions across our current range of products, including Smart Ones.
Joan Smith* / Consumer Services / Heinz Canada”
*[EV Note: I changed the name of the signatory so as not to call out an individual]
Is it just me or was that a whole lot of words strung together that say absolutely nothing, and do not come even close to answering my question?
Apparently Heinz feels that they do offer healthy foods that are below “sodium limits” established by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and point specifically to their tomato juice. So I went to their website to see the sodium content of their tomato juice.
The website proudly states that “One cup of Heinz Tomato Juice contains 2 full servings of vegetables, 25 mg of lycopene, and is endorsed by the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Health Check™ logo.” Wow, fantastic. But curiously there is no mention of sodium. I went to the nutrition calculator on their site, and learned that this “healthy” juice contains 650 mg of sodium in a 60 calorie serving. I must not be very smart, because I don’t understand how something that contains 27% of the daily value of sodium in 3% of the daily energy requirements is healthy. Now if Heinz is saying that excessive sodium consumption is healthy, then I would understand. Because these products have excessive amounts of sodium.
I decided to go look at the criteria for the Health Check logo, and I learned something very interesting. The Heart and Stroke Foundation have changed their sodium requirements:
“Sodium criteria were reduced for most of the menu item categories in December 2009. A change in
sodium criteria for soups in the restaurant program has also been announced, reducing it from the
current level of 650 mg to 480 mg per 250 mL serving.” (Health Check website)
Further, the Health Check website states that: “All products currently in the program must meet the new criteria level by November 1, 2010 or forfeit participation in the Health Check program.”
So Heinz Canada is either in breech of the Health Check program requirements, or they have reduced the sodium content of their products, but have not updated their website to reflect it. Obviously it must be the latter, because a large community-oriented corporation would never allow themselves to be in breech of any laws.
I will be re-contacting Heinz Canada as well as the Heart and Stroke Foundation, so stay tuned for more.
And remember to check the sodium content on the labels of foods that you eat. Some of them will surprise you.