Campbell's settles lawsuit over low sodium soup labels

August 25, 2011 6:44:10 PM PDT
A 7 On Your Side investigation into the potentially mislabeling of certain soup cans has led to legal action against a giant soup company.

District attorneys in two counties saw ABC7's report on salt contents inside cans of Campbell's soup and filed a civil lawsuit against the soup giant. On Thursday, Campbell's settled the suit for $173,000.

The last time ABC7 caught up with Dierdre Owens, she was showing us the can of Campbell's tomato soup that she purchased because the label claimed it had 25 percent less sodium.

"Heart-healthy, or low sodium, of course it catches your eye," Owens said.

However, she also compared the "less sodium" soup with a can of regular tomato soup and found that both cans were 100 percent identical.

Campbell's regular tomato soup has 480 milligrams of sodium according to its label, and the soup that claims to have "less sodium" also had 480 milligrams of sodium.

The only difference seemed to be on the receipt: The price of the soup with the "25 percent less sodium" label costs about 50 cents more.

We later asked shoppers to compare the two cans.

"They're the same," said shopper Phyllis Goodman. "I wonder why they're doing that."

The district attorneys in Alameda and San Diego counties were also surprised. Both filed a civil lawsuit claiming the labels were misleading.

The suit says the product with the "less sodium" label used to have less sodium, but recipes were changed in 2009 and now both have the same amount of sodium.

A representative from Campbell's denied the allegations and said that the "labels and advertising were accurate and in compliance with the law. We settled the case to avoid the expense and inconvenience associated with litigation. Campbell agreed to a new process for labeling and advertising claims in California to avoid inconsistent comparisons between the same varieties of reduced sodium condensed and regular condensed soup."

The funds from the settlement will go to the consumer protection divisions in both Alameda and San Diego counties to cover legal costs and pursue other cases.


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