Tag Archives: sodium

Guru Comic: So Deeee-umb

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Sodium won’t catch up

Ketchup or catsup? At least as far as my browser’s built-in spellchecker is concerned, it’s definitely the former. It chokes on the latter.

I went to Wal-Mart last night to get a good deal on cat food. I normally avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. I hate that place. While there, however, I remembered we were out of ketchup, so I attempted to traverse my way to the grocery section – without the aid of a map.

I found ketchup and began scanning the various shapes and sizes focusing on cost per ounce. A mysterious empty section of the shelf caught my eye. It was completely empty. A little label said “Heinz Ketchup, 40 ounce, $1.00.” Whoa! What the heck was that all about? At my local grocery store this would have been $3 or more. I bent down and saw four bottles way in the back. They were mine! I watched like a hawk at checkout and sure enough, those bottles were $1 each with no coupon. Wow.

I love ketchup. A lot. It’s by far my favorite condiment. It goes on fries (of course), hash browns, scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, meat loaf (pre-veggie days) and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. My wife the expert cook doesn’t use it quite as much as me and many times I’ve tried to use it on her cooking and have received the Stare of Death.

The ingredients in Heinz ketchup (per the label) are:

  • Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes
  • Distilled vinegar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Salt
  • Spice
  • Onion powder
  • Natural flavoring

Wow. High fructose corn syrup! The label says a “serving” of ketchup is 1 tablespoon and contains 15 calories. A tablespoon is three teaspoons and a teaspoon of sugar has 15 calories. So I guess that means that ketchup is made of about the equivalent of one-third sugar. Yikes.

On a 2,000 calorie per day diet those calories represent about 3.3% of your “daily values” or DV (even though the label doesn’t actually do the DV math on calories).

Then the word “sodium” on the label caught my eye. A serving contains 190mg or 8% of DV. Eight percent of your daily salt limit in a single tablespoon of ketchup? Yikes, that seems high. That must have something to do with the fact that “salt” is the fifth ingredient (by volume). I can only imagine what happens when I use ketchup on my heavily over-salted french fries.

Earlier this month Heinz quietly changed their formula for ketchup. It was the first “significant” change to their recipe in nearly 40 years. A company spokesperson said that the change will not be noted on product packaging except, presumably, in the Nutrition Facts box. The amount of sodium reduction will be about 15 percent or 160mg per serving.

This recipe change pertains to the United States version of Heinz ketchup. In Canada the recipe is already only 140mg of sodium per serving and “tends to have a sweeter taste than the U.S. version.”

The politics of ketchup? We heard a bit about Heinz when John Kerry was running for president. This sodium change, however, is at least in part to the “National Salt Reduction Initiative” spearheaded by New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Heinz is one of 16 major food manufacturers that has voluntarily joined the program.”

So, naturally, web sites like the aptly named Hot Air decry Heinz ketchup a “casualty of the liberal doctrine.” Yeah, whatever.

I personally believe the average American diet contains way too much salt. I salt very few things like steak (which I don’t eat any more) and corn on the cob. I believe that most processed foods we eat already contain so much salt it would be nuts to add more.