Canned Food Complaints

Supermarkets have shelf after shelf lined with canned goods. People love the convenience. But something bugs them.

One told us, "I just think that too many things today that are being processed have far too much liquid in them."

Another said, "Why pay for the extra water?"

A third explained, "I feel like I'm getting more water than beans or more water than fruit salad."

Consumer Reports has gotten lots of complaints like that about too much liquid in cans.

Jamie Kopf explains, "A common misconception is that the weight listed on the can is the weight of the food. But it's not. Net weight also includes any liquid in the can."

To get an idea of just how much liquid is in cans, Consumer Reports carefully drained and weighed the contents of 63 cans. There were cans of vegetables … chicken … and fruits.

Jamie asked, "So just how much food are you getting? The cans we looked at averaged between 52% and 66% food. And the rest just went down the drain."

Consumer Reports combed through government regulations, and all the cans of food tested were within the guidelines.

Jamie says, "Manufacturers defend using water in cans. For example, General Mills, which packages Green Giant foods, told us that it's there to 'keep the freshness of the product.'"

Companies do seem to be trying to address consumers' concerns. Chicken of the Sea has come out with a can of tuna that says, "No Drain. Just a little water."

And Green Giant sells vacuum-packed corn that it says holds the same amount of corn as their regular can but has a lot less water.

Sometimes companies do fail to meet federal standards for the amount of food in canned goods. Last summer, Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, and StarKist agreed to pay a total of more than $3 million to settle complaints that they put less tuna in their cans than required.

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