Nutrition in the Aisles - Retail Dietitian Toolkit

Addressing Consumer Questions about Canned Foods

As shoppers want to know more about how certain foods fit within their diets, we wanted to arm you with sample responses to some of the most common consumer questions surrounding canned foods.

Q1: Isn’t it better to cook with fresh ingredients?
A1:
When it comes to a healthy diet and getting the nutrition your body needs, all forms of foods count – canned, fresh, frozen, dried and 100% juice. There are benefits to each form. The key is to eat a diet filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, lean protein (including canned tuna, salmon and chicken), whole grains and low-fat dairy.

Q2: Isn’t canned food high in sodium?
A2:
Many canned foods are, and always have been, low in sodium. Today, there are more low-sodium, reduced sodium and no-salt-added options available in the canned food aisle than ever before. Simply read the nutrition label for the option that is right for you. And remember that draining and rinsing canned beans and vegetables can reduce sodium content even further. In one study of canned beans, sodium levels were reduced by 41% after draining and rinsing them; draining alone accounted for a 36% reduction.(1)

Q3: Is it true that canned fruit is full of added sugar?
A3:
The fact is all fruit contains naturally occurring sugar. And not all canned fruit has added sugar. When it does, it is primarily used to maintain fruit’s natural sweetness and flavor. Today, there are more canned fruit choices than ever before, including fruit packed in light syrup or in 100% juice. So, you can decide what’s best for your family. Draining the canned fruit also can reduce added sugar content.

Q4: Canned food is filled with preservatives, isn’t it?
A4:
Canned foods do not require preservatives. The canning process itself preserves the food until it is ready to be enjoyed. Take a look at the ingredient labels on foods such as canned beans, fruit, vegetables and seafood. Often you will find three or fewer simple ingredients. So you can feel free to take advantage of the convenience and affordability of canned foods, knowing your family will enjoy great-tasting nutrition.

Q5: Is canned food considered ‘processed food’?
A5:
According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, “food processing is any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat.” So yes, canned food is considered processed food, as are frozen vegetables, roasted nuts, tomato sauce, fruit jam and bagged salad greens, just to name a few other examples. Canned fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, including tuna, are considered minimally processed. Canning helps preserve foods and enhance nutrients and freshness of foods at their peak. This provides us access to nutritious, convenient, safe and affordable foods year-round.

Q6: What is BPA and should I be concerned about it when choosing canned food?
A6:
BPA, or Bisphenol A, can be a hot-button issue for some, but it is important to note that its use in food packaging, including in the linings of some steel food cans, has been approved and re-affirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Linings of canned foods serve an important role, creating a barrier between the metal and the food contained inside to maintain the safety, quality and nutritional value of these products.

1. Duyff, J. Mount, J. Jones, J of Culinary Sci and Tech, Vol 9, Issue 2, 2011