Consumer Confusion About Canned Food Persists

Pittsburgh, June 11, 2013 -Americans enjoy the many benefits of canned foods, including convenience, value and ease of preparation, according to a new consumer survey commissioned by the Canned Food Alliance (CFA)[1]. More than 80 percent of respondents say they rely on canned foods to prepare meals at least a couple of times each month, with 61 percent of those saying they reach for canned foods at least one to two times each week.

The survey also reveals consumers' misperceptions about canned food nutrition. At odds with recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans and many nutrition education organizations, which promote consumption of all forms of nutritious foods (canned, fresh, frozen and dried) for a healthy diet, consumer attitudes also are often contrary to decades of nutrition science that demonstrate the many benefits of enjoying food from a can.

"We know relying on canned foods to prepare quick, nutritious meals for ourselves and our families makes good sense and is backed by research that shows canned foods offer comparable nutrition to other forms," said Rich Tavoletti, executive director of the CFA. "Americans continue to underestimate the value of canned foods in a healthy diet. We are educating consumers by sharing the realities about canned food."

Top facts about canned food include:

  • Canned Food Offers Sound Nutrition to Help Americans Achieve Nutrient Needs- Canned food is filled with important nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy diet. Less than half (42 percent) of Americans surveyed realize the nutrients contained in canned food count toward meeting the daily recommended goals.
  • Canned Food Offers Comparable Nutrition to Fresh and Frozen- Research shows time-and-again that canned foods offer similar nutrition to fresh and frozen - and sometimes even offer higher levels of some important nutrients[2]. Only 27 percent of respondents agree that canned foods are as nutritious as their frozen counterparts and only 18 percent agree that canned food is as nutritious as fresh.
  • You Can Enjoy Canned Foods While Watching Sodium Intake- Canned food contributes less than 1 percent of the sodium in consumers' diets. Only half (52 percent) of those surveyed know canned foods can be low in sodium, despite the hundreds of low sodium, reduced sodium and no salt added options found on grocery shelves. Bread and rolls, cheese, fresh and processed poultry and deli meats are some of the main sources of sodium in Americans' diets. Canned vegetables and beans don't even crack the top ten. Plus, you can drain and rinse canned vegetables and beans to further reduce the sodium content by up to 41 percent[3].
  • Canned Foods are Minimally Processed- Just as bagged salads and frozen fruits and vegetables go through minimal processing before being sold, so, too, do canned foods. And yet, 58 percent of respondents think canned foods are more highly processed than frozen or other packaged forms. Fruits and vegetables destined for cans are picked at peak ripeness and packed quickly after being harvested. After being cleaned, trimmed and/or chopped (if necessary), they are sealed in steel cans and then quickly "cooked in the can" to lock in nutrients and preserve taste and quality, similar to home canning.
  • Canned Foods Contain No Added Preservatives- Canning helps preserve and enhance nutrients and freshness of foods at their peak. Contrary to popular belief (67 percent), canned foods do not require preservatives as the canning process itself serves to preserve the food.
  • Steel Cans are Among the Safest Forms of Food Packaging- The steel can is one of the safest forms of food packaging available. They are strong, tamper-resistant and feature an air-tight seal to help keep food fresh and safe, yet less than half (46 percent) of Americans surveyed realize it.

"As we strive to eat healthier diets in line with USDA's guidelines, including consumption of  more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and fiber-rich foods, Americans should be persuaded to reach more often and confidently for quick, convenient and nutritious canned foods," said Tavoletti. 

The CFA works to encourage increased consumption of canned foods through direct outreach to consumers with a variety of recipes and meal-preparation tips, as well as by partnering with dietitians, educators and policymakers to ensure they get the facts about canned food. For more information about canned food research, resources, the canning process, family mealtime solutions, recipes that use canned food and more, please visit.

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