Wendyl Wants to Know: Soup should have more than a dab of puree
Rich Tomato Maggi Soup for a Cup
$2.40 for 4 serves of 78g.
As we head into winter, packet soups make a convenient lunch and tomato soup is always popular with Kiwis.
This soup looks bright red and creamy on the box with two plump tomatoes in the background and is 98.5 per cent fat free.
It's a pity that the amount of actual tomato in the rich tomato soup is 1 per cent or 0.78g which is just over a 10th of a teaspoon of tomato puree. Which means most of the ingredients will be flavours, colourings, emulsifiers and preservatives. Let's see just how many.
Ingredients when reconstituted
This is the first time I've come across this statement on an ingredients label and the NZ Food Standards Code tells me this means the ingredients are being declared in order of their weight when mixed with water.
Now I'm really confused because surely when this packet of powder is reconstituted with 200ml of water, then water would be the heaviest and largest ingredient, but it doesn't appear anywhere on the label.
It does tell me that there is a decent amount of sugar in this product and the nutrition panel confirms there is 6.6g which is just over a teaspoon.
[glucose syrup solids, vegetable oil (contains soy), sodium caseinate (from milk), mineral salts (340,451), emulsifiers (471,481), anti-caking agent (551)]
This whitener is the stuff many Americans use in their coffee and it is otherwise known as non-dairy creamer or coffee whitener. It's basically a liquid which replicates creamy milk made out of glucose syrup, oil and sodium caseinate which is a lactose-free milk protein. The manufacturer added mineral salts potassium phosphate and potassium tripolyphosphate as preservatives, emulsifiers mono and di glycerides of fatty acids and sodium lactylate to keep the oil and water mixed together and anti-caking agent silicon dioxide to stop it clumping.
Modified starch (1420)
This is starch acetate treated with acetic anhydride. Modified starch is starch that has been altered chemically to make it more thick or jelly-like.
Maltodextrin (from corn)
This is sugar obtained by hydrolysis of a starch - in this case corn.
Tomato Puree (1pc)
Tomatoes made into a puree just as you add to bolognese sauces and casseroles. The total weight of the soup packet is 78g so I calculate 0.78g is in this product which is a little over a tenth of a teaspoon.
This product is very high in salt at 1.75g per serve. The nutrition panel lists 700mg of sodium but while we may regard sodium and salt as being the same thing they aren't. Salt is made up of sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl). By listing the sodium content of foods, manufacturers can mislead us on the amount of salt. When you see a sodium level, multiply it by 2.5 to get the equivalent salt intake. It is recommended that most adults consume no more than 6g of salt a day.
This will be onion finely chopped and dehydrated.
Food acids (331,330)
Sodium citrate and citric acid here as preservatives.
Flavour enhancers (621,635)
Monosodium glutamate or MSG and Disodium 5'-ribonucleotides are chemicals which don't have a flavour of their own but enhance what flavour there is. Healthy eaters and asthmatics like to avoid both as they can cause allergic reactions in some people. At the moment there are no scientific studies to prove allergic reactions and both are legal to be used in food as long as they are labelled clearly.
Hydrogenated vegetable oil (contains soy)
This is soybean oil which has been treated with hydrogen gas under high pressure to make it solid rather than liquid at room temperature.
Flavours (contains wheat)
These will be chemicals added to the mix to make it taste like tomato.
Here we have three colours banned in other countries. Tartrazine (102) is banned in Norway and the Britain's Food Standards Authority has called for a voluntary phase-out of its use in foods due to links to hyperactivity in children. Carmoisine has been banned in Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States because it can cause allergic reactions and there are concerns that it might be carcinogenic (cancer causing). Indigotine has been banned in Norway.
There is more salt and sugar in here than tomato so the fact that it tastes like tomato soup must be because of the chemical flavours and flavour enhancers in this product. It uses 23 ingredients including colourings banned in other countries and enhancers like MSG which many healthy eaters are eager to avoid. Call me old-fashioned but if something says "Rich Tomato" on the packet I expect it to have a little more than a pinch of tomato puree in it.
The packet has the statement "Life's all about balance" on it and I think if you want to eat tomato soup it's not that hard to balance your life for long enough to make a big pot of it and take a container-full to work to heat up safe in the knowledge that you are eating a real soup made from four real food ingredients: onions, butter, tomatoes and stock.
* "Rich Tomato" it may say on the packet but it only has .78g or a little over a tenth of a teaspoon of tomato puree in it.
* It takes 23 ingredients including colours banned in some countries, chemical flavours and flavour enhancers, preservatives and emulsifiers to do what four real food ingredients can do.
There is more salt and sugar in each serving than tomato.
A press release from the NZ Food and Grocery Council says this is World Salt Awareness Week and confirms that food companies such as Kellogg, Hubbard Foods and Sanitarium have worked to reduce the amount of sodium in their cereals in recent years. Other food companies are committed to significant salt reduction programmes.