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‘Heart Check’ healthy soups really aren’t that healthy

Rowan Moore Gerety Aug 29, 2013
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Aurora De Ines and her husband look over labels in the soup aisle at the Super A grocery store in Los Angeles.

“We do try to buy the product that has less sodium,” says De Ines.

She always reads the nutrition facts on the back of prepared foods. Even so, “If it says healthy, it does catch ‘your eye,” De Ines admits.

“Rich in anti-oxidants.” “Low-fat.” “All-natural.” Today’s shoppers are seeing more and more “health-conscious” food labels.

One brand riding that wave is Campbell’s Soup Company, which reports earnings today. But the green “Heart Check” label on its soup cans is now the subject of a class action lawsuit.

Brands like Progresso and Campbell’s have special labeling that’s backed by the American Heart Association. But even those soups don’t pass the Heart Association’s standards for low-sodium foods. The lawsuit alleges that misleads consumers.

“Consumers expect when they see a heart healthy label, that it’s something they can trust is better for them,” says Bob Goldin, a food industry analyst with Technomic.

“The word healthy, natural. I do think they’re overused, and they mean different things to different people.”

Goldin says the key is make sure consumers don’t see nutrition claims as marketing slogans, and that “heart healthy” means what it says.

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