Campbell’s Mmm Mmm, Not So Good

by Leighann on April 5, 2010

During both pregnancies, I tried to stay away from MSG. This is easier said than done. Breakfast and dinner weren’t so bad, but the number of canned soups and frozen entrees without MSG is small, which made work lunches a bit more difficult. Even the Chinese restaurant around the corner from my office was hesitant to comply with my requests for an MSG-free plate of stir fried green beans with crispy tofu. They said, “But we only use a little MSG, not much.”

And seemingly vegetarian soups often have hidden animal products. I’m not worried about dairy. But why do they have to have chicken or beef stock in vegetable, broccoli, and potato soups? I just don’t get it. Panera even fails at this.

I have been purchasing Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable soup for my children to eat for weekday lunches. It is something that the nanny (grandma) can quickly fix. Add some fruit, crackers, and milk and it appears to be a pretty balanced meal.

Today I popped open a can and for some reason read the label. I must not have read the label when I started buying it in the first place. That’s unusual for me not to scrutinize.

I was a little shocked at what I read.

This soup, which you would think would be healthy since “Vegetarian” is in the name, contains not one, but two things that kids shouldn’t be eating. And I say “kids” because the soup has alphabet pasta, something that is marketed toward kids.



Yeah, really.

You would think that since Andy Warhol even painted the Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable, that it has to be good.

Warhol Vegetable Soup

Warhol's Vegetarian Vegetable Soup Painting

I tried confirming the ingredients on Campbell’s website. Although nutritional data was easy to locate, they do not list ingredients. Something to hide? Yes! They are hiding the HFCS and MSG!

According to Campbell’s:

MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate, is an ingredient that adds savory taste to foods. Its been used safely for more than a century. MSG is a common flavor enhancer added by chefs and food manufacturers alike. Glutamate, a component of MSG, occurs naturally in some vegetables and processed ingredients, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein and yeast extract. Foods containing MSG will note it clearly in the ingredient statement on our product labels. People who prefer to eat foods without added MSG can look at a number of options in our portfolio, including our full lines of Campbell’s Select Harvest® soups, Campbell’s Healthy Request® condensed soups, Campbell’s V8® soups and Campbell’s® condensed Kids soups. We also do not add MSG to our Swanson® Chicken broth.

Here’s where Campbell’s and I disagree. They do not include Vegetarian Vegetable among their 13 “condensed Kids soups” so they have not removed the MSG. But it has ALPHABET LETTERS! To me any soup with alphabet letters is marketed to kids.

My message to Campbell’s:

  1. Remove HFCS and MSG from all products marketed to kids, including Vegetarian Vegetable.
  2. Remove meat products, such as beef and chicken broth, from soups that could and should be vegetarian.
  3. List ingredients on your website.

Do you try to avoid MSG in the foods you serve your kids?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Joanne April 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Ugh, I hate reading labels after the fact and finding out I’ve been giving Elise something that I wouldn’t normally. I avoid MSG at all costs because it makes me so sick if I have any, plus I think it’s a totally unnecessary additive to food.


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