Food label exposé

The Walk Talk Nutrition RD team is back, and we’re discussing some of the more common changes we’ve noticed on food labels lately.  We compared current labels to those from a few years back for the same products to see what kind of changes were made and how those changes impacted the nutrient profile of the food.

When food companies change ingredients, they don’t have to announce it on the food label.  Food manufacturers change recipes all the time.  They may do this for cost savings, to remove ingredients that are no longer useful, or to improve the nutrition profile of the food.  Cutting back on added sugars, sodium and fat are usually seen as more healthful changes.  But the companies are not obligated to make any type of announcement about ingredient changes.  They just have to change the ingredients list, note any potential allergens and adjust the Nutrition Facts information as necessary.

In recent years, soup companies have been quietly reducing the salt content in soups, but not announcing it, because consumers widely believe that soup with less sodium doesn’t taste as good.  An industry rule of thumb says that reducing salt by 10% is fairly easy to accomplish, but beyond that people start to notice a taste difference.


For example, Kathy found an old label for Sargento cheese sticks and compared it to the current label.  The ingredients have changed, and the current version has more protein, slightly more calories and less sodium.

We were both surprised by changes to the signature Kashi Go Lean cereal.  The serving size increased, and ingredients changed considerably.  Soy grits used to be the first ingredient, but not anymore.  As a result, the protein is slightly less, even with the bigger suggested serving size.

Our conclusion: many ingredient changes result in products with less sodium, sugar or fat.  If you buy a product because it contains a certain ingredient or has a certain nutrient content, check the ingredients list occasionally to be sure it wasn’t changed!

old and new Sargento cheese stick labels


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