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Lawsuit says Campbell's '25% less sodium' soup label is misleading

Four New Jersey women allege the sodium levels in the soup giant's varieties labeled as 25% less sodium are almost as much as in some of its regular soups.

March 28, 2011|By P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times

Exactly how much salt is in Campbell Soup Co.'s "less-sodium" soups?

Almost as much as in some of its regular soups, said four New Jersey women who won a federal court order rejecting a bid by the Camden, N.J., food maker to throw their lawsuit out.

The women accused Campbell of misleading consumers by selling lower-sodium soups at premium prices when they had almost as much salt as regular soups. Among other things, the suit claimed that Campbell's 25% Less Sodium Tomato Soup had the same sodium level — 480 milligrams — as its regular tomato soup.

Food makers are facing increased pressure to offer such lower-sodium foods — and alter their recipes to cut calories, fat and sugar — as political and consumer groups ramp up efforts to combat U.S. obesity.

Campbell said in a statement that it was confident in the accuracy of its labeling. In trying to dismiss the case, it had argued that the federal Food and Drug Administration, which oversees product labeling, does not require Campbell to specify how one soup compares with other products.

But U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle in Camden wrote in a decision last week that "it was reasonable for plaintiffs to expect that the soups they were receiving had 25%-30% less sodium than the regular tomato soup, when the soups in fact had approximately the same amount of sodium."

p.j.huffstutter@latimes.com

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