Campbell’s Sells Sea Salt By The Sea Shore

I try not to blog about an ad for a company after having recently talked about one of their other ads. Having said that, here’s another ad for Campbell’s soup.

This is an imaginative ad. Since soup is usually very high in sodium, a soup that is lower in sodium is a good thing.

I have some problems with the following claim:

Campbell’s Healthy Request Soups…have no MSG and our lower sodium natural sea salt added for taste you can actually taste.

Referring to the “no MSG claim, the small print at the bottom of the ad says: “Except for the small amount naturally occurring in yeast extract and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.” But ” a small amount” of MSG isn’t the same as “no MSG.” Using logic, the soup either contains MSG or it contains no MSG. It can’t contain both “no MSG” and “a small amount of MSG.” It’s either one or the other. So the “no MSG” claim is inaccurate.

Campbell’s says they add “lower sodium natural sea salt.” Here’s what The Food Network says about the difference between regular salt and sea salt:

For the cook’s purposes, the main difference between salts is in their texture. Table salt’s fine granules dissolve quickly, making it the preferred salt of bakers. Sea salt and kosher salt possess larger, irregular grains that add a delightful crunch and hit of briny flavor when sprinkled on food at the last minute… (italics mine)

Chemically there is little difference between kitchen salts. All are at least 97 1/2 percent sodium chloride. But there are significant differences in the provenance and processing of these salts.

Sea salt is harvested from evaporated seawater and receives little or no processing, leaving intact the minerals from the water it came from. These minerals flavor and color the salt slightly. However…it is worth keeping in mind that they lose their unique flavor when cooked or dissolved.

Sea salt might have less sodium because the shape of the crystals means that a specific volume of sea salt will contain more air (and consequently less salt) than the same volume of table salt. If Campbell’s says their Heathy Request soup has lower sodium, it’s not because sea salt is naturally lower in sodium than table salt, it’s because they use less salt.

As far as “taste you can actually taste,” besides sounding dopey, it’s inaccurate. As noted above, sea salt loses its unique flavor once it’s cooked, and Campbell’s soups are cooked, and the consumer cooks it again. I would expect that in a blind taste test between two identical soups, one made with sea salt and one made with regular salt, the number of guesses correctly identifying which soup contained sea salt versus which one contained table salt would  be about 50 percent, the same as one would expect by chance.

By Marc Librescu


2 responses to “Campbell’s Sells Sea Salt By The Sea Shore

  1. Thank you! The “lower sodium sea salt” ads from Campbell’s have been bugging me forever! I’ve been asking around about the whole claim, and looking up about it, since the claim didn’t make sense to me. If it’s lower sodium, it’s because they’re using less salt, and not because sea salt is this magical salt that some people mistakenly believe it is. Sea salt is good as a “topping” sort of salt, but if all I’m doing is boiling it in water, anyway, I’d rather just use the cheaper stuff.

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