FTC Labels Campbell Ads Deceptive on Heart Claim

Associated Press

Campbell Soup Co. was deceptive in advertising its soups as good for the heart without disclosing their high sodium content, the Federal Trade Commission charged today.

The company said it stands behind the ads in question, which are no longer running, and will contest the commission’s charge.

The FTC complaint said Campbell did not have substantiation for its claim that most of its soups “make a positive contribution to a diet that reduces the risk of heart disease.”

The commission is seeking an order from an administrative law judge that would forbid Campbell from asserting that soups--those containing more than 500 milligrams of sodium per eight-ounce serving--are good for the heart without also stating the sodium content of the soup.


Campbell makes 70 kinds of condensed soup, plus two different low-sodium lines. The commission staff declined to discuss what it knows about the sodium content of all the regular varieties, but an inspection of six at a supermarket showed sodium levels ranging from 710 milligrams for turkey vegetable to 910 milligrams for chicken noodle.

Sodium is part of sodium chloride, ordinary table salt, which manufacturers add to food to enhance taste. A teaspoon of salt contains about 2,000 milligrams or two grams of sodium.

A committee of the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that most Americans limit their sodium intake to 1,100 to 3,300 milligrams per day. Though 200 milligrams is considered adequate, most Americans get 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams a day.

The commission also objected to a magazine ad which said the company’s soups were low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber and calcium when made with milk.

Chicken noodle, the ad said, “is low in fat and has just 15 milligrams of cholesterol. And that’s especially good to know because research tells us that a diet low in fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of some forms of heart disease.”