THE CLAIM

“99% Fat Free Soup and Broth”

THE TRUTH

I firmly believe that fat is essential to good health and am definitely not an advocate of low fat diets. However, the deception behind the labeling of the following products as 99% fat free is still a good example of why most food labels can’t be trusted. As you will soon see, percentages can be very ambiguous

Fat contains more than twice as many calories as protein and carbohydrates. As such, it’s advantageous for food companies to use weight rather than calories when calculating the percentage of fat. As you can see with the Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup, it’s really only 85% fat free when calculated based on calories. Swanson Chicken Broth is an even more dramatic example and is only 50% fat free based on calories.

Jeff Novick, a registered dietitian and former employee of Kraft Foods, has shared some interesting insight. To justify the use of low fat food labels, he claims that Kraft intentionally dilutes certain products with water to make the fat content a smaller percentage of the weight and then adds sugar and salt to compensate for the resulting lack of flavor. He also claims that on his departure, Kraft forced him to sign a legal document that prevents him from talking about this. Fortunately, his conscious has compelled him to talk about it anyway.