Campbell's Backtracks on Move to Lower Salt in Famous Soup

Company chooses profits over health.
Lower sodium soups failed to lift sales for the company.
Jul 27, 2011
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.

Campbell's Soup wants you to pass the salt.

Bucking industry trends to cut back on mile-high sodium levels in processed and fast foods, the iconic soup maker announced at its annual investor's conference that it's adding salt back into its products, reversing an experiment with lower salt levels that it says was a flop.

The reason? Reduced sodium levels might be good for your heart and waistline, but they're bad for Campbell's bottom line. As Reuters put it, the salt cutbacks "failed to lift sales."

"Sodium reduction is important but we have to do other things, like taste and more culinary credentials," Morrison said.

If you're surprised that Campbell's is reaching for the salt shaker while everyone else, from McDonald's to Subway, seems to be moving in the other direction, don't be. Food safety and nutrition expert Marion Nestle writes at her site Food Politics:

Make no mistake: food companies are not social service agencies. When it comes to a commitment to public health, the bottom line is all that counts—and has to be, given the way Wall Street works.

This needs a system change, no?  And one starting with Wall Street, which isn’t a bad idea for other reasons as well.

The sodium levels are going up in all of Campbell's "Select Harvest" soups, from 480 milligrams per serving to 650 milligrams. They had originally ranged from 700 to 800 milligrams.

Wall Street sure seemed to like the announcement; Campbell's shares closed up 1.3 percent on Tuesday. 

[Reuters; FoodPolitics]

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