UPDATE: How Does Campbell’s Soup Not Know What’s In Its Own Products?

It’s really been a whirlwind of activity over here while we continue to get to the bottom of what’s really in a bottle of V8. I’d like to give you a quick rundown of what happened since I published my Campbell’s V8 Juice post on Tuesday, so that you have the complete picture and know what to do from here on out to hold Campbell’s accountable for their lack of transparency and the huge mistakes they are making that have confused many of us.

wahol-campbell-soup-cans

On the morning of August 5th, 2014, I was alerted that a petition was launched on Change.org to remove animal products from V8 juice, as they had publicly admitted to a vegan blogger on Twitter that the natural flavors in their products may contain meat or dairy:

Twitter Campbells

 

I was alarmed to find out that V8 “100% Vegetable Juice” could contain something other than vegetables. Not sure if it was true, I asked one of my team members to contact Campbell’s to double check and ask them to verify this information. We used the chat function on their website, so that we’d have a written record, but we also called them. As you can see, at around 11:30 a.m. EST, August 5th, Campbell’s confirmed that the information given on Twitter was true:

 

 

———: Hi there. I read that you recently Tweeted that the “natural flavors” in V-8 Juice may contain “meat/seafood/poultry/dairy”. Is that true?
**Welcome to Campbell’s Chat! An agent will be with you shortly.
Thank you for holding, you are speaking with Kelly.
Kelly: Thank you for taking the time to contact Campbell today ———. I will be happy to help.
Kelly: That is a great question! Yes this is true.
———: Are there any more ingredients that may contain animal parts?
———: Can you clarify if it is meat or dairy?
Kelly: The term “flavoring” refers to the oils or extracts that are obtained from spices and herbs. Natural flavoring may also include onion or garlic derivatives, as well as flavor derived from fruits, vegetables and their juices, or edible parts of plants. Other sources may include meat, seafood, poultry or dairy products, whose significant function in the food is flavoring rather than nutrition.
Kelly: I cannot clarify, However I can tell you if there was dairy in the Natural Flavoring, It would be listed in parenthesis after Natural Flavoring, because dairy is a top 8 allergen. 

Campbell’s went on to say the natural flavors are “proprietary” and may contain meat:

 
———: Okay, so it would be from either meat, poultry, or seafood?
Kelly: Correct. It can be.
———: Are you saying that you don’t know if it does?
Kelly: I’m not saying that. It can be derived from Meat, Seafood, Poultry or Dairy.
Kelly: It is a proprietary recipe. 
———: So, you can’t disclose which it is made from?
Kelly: That is correct. However, as I stated, if there was an allergen, That would have to be listed after the Natural Flavoring.

Campbell’s responds after consumers become outraged… 

I also couldn’t find any mention of the fact that V8 “100% Vegetable Juice” may contain animal products on their website or their labels. I know that there are many vegans and vegetarians that have been consuming V8 juice for years without realizing that it could contain meat-derived flavorings, and I had to share this information. Within minutes of publishing my blog post on this issue, many of you were very upset, commented on V8′s Facebook page and signed the petition on Change.org, demanding that Campbell’s remove animal products from V8.  As reported in Politico, after I shared the petition, it “zoomed from less than 200 signatures to nearly 6,000 in just a few hours” (and it now has over 11,000 signatures). This surely got Campbell’s attention and they made an attempt to respond, by leaving a short comment on my website:

“Hi there, It’s Anna here from Campbell Soup. We saw this post and wanted to set the record straight. V8 100% Vegetable Juice IS vegetarian and uses natural flavorings derived from plants and vegetables. Also, our Tomato Soup is vegetarian. Our care team got this information wrong on Twitter. We apologize for any confusion”.

This comment brought up more questions than it answered.

Just a few short hours ago they told us that V8 may contain meat, but now it is all plant/vegetable derived? Your customer service got it “wrong on Twitter”, although they confirmed this was “true” this morning via their website and on the phone? Why are your customer service agents giving inaccurate information to your customers? What other product questions are getting answered incorrectly?

If V8 is vegetarian, why isn’t it vegan?

Just because it is vegetarian, does not mean that it doesn’t contain any animal products. Vegan foods shouldn’t contain any meat or animal bi-products, including dairy, eggs, and gelatin – so what does V8 contain that prohibits it from being vegan?  

According to Karen C. Duester, MS, RD, the editor of FoodLabels.com: “Neither FDA nor FTC has any labeling regulations for vegetarian or vegan statements, other than being “truthful and not misleading.”  A clarifying “contains honey” statement near the “vegan” call-out would help to ensure that the manufacturer is making truthful and not misleading statements while giving consumers the information they need to make informed decisions”.

We are looking for the truth, and it really shouldn’t be that hard.  

Even if you are not a vegan, can you really trust a company that gives conflicting information about their ingredients to their customers? For a company that has spent nearly ONE MILLION DOLLARS to fight transparency in food ingredient labeling, you’d think they would have spent that money in a positive way, possibly by creating better products and training their employees so that customers could get accurate and honest information. Mary Tully recently updated her petition, which sums up how Campbell’s actions are untrustworthy:

“How does a food company’s customer care team (they make the food, they don’t just sell it like a supermarket) not know something so basic as whether or not some of its most popular products have animal ingredients?… If their own staff doesn’t know what’s in these products, how do they expect consumers to trust them?… Trust has been lost. Campbell really screwed up. I don’t know why we are expected to trust them now”. 

Yesterday, I responded to Campbell’s by email, this is what I wrote:

“I am still confused, just this morning, I received a chat response on your website from “Kelly” indicating that your natural flavorings could have animal products and the statements on Twitter were true. Are you going to issue a formal response to this matter? What EXACTLY are “natural flavorings derived from plants and vegetables”? What process(es) are used to “derive” these flavorings? You say the V8 and Tomato Soup are vegetarian, but you don’t mention if they are vegan, are they? I’d like to share your response with my readers.”

Then, I received this response from Campbell’s:

“To clarify, both V8 100% Vegetable Juice and Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup are suitable for vegetarians. The information provided by our care team wasn’t accurate and we’ve updated the way we respond to these enquiries. The flavoring in V8 100% Vegetable Juice product is a blend of herb and citrus oils and in Tomato Soup it’s a blend of herb oils. Both these blends help give the products their unique tastes. We don’t currently market any of our products as vegan.”

Our Path Forward

I responded back to Campbell’s and asked them to provide a complete list of all of their products that may contain animal products hidden within their flavors. We’ve also asked them to explain why V8 is not vegan. If it’s not, we want to know what animal products or byproducts are in V8 juice that prevent it from being vegan. Again, you’d think that a product that says 100% vegetable juice, should just be made from vegetables, right?

Please let Campbell’s know that this lack of transparency is unacceptable. Hold them accountable and ask them to provide clear labeling for vegetarian and vegan products and to provide the public with a complete list of products that may contain animal-derived ingredients. If you haven’t already, go to Campbell’s Soup Facebook page here or Twitter page here and leave a comment.  

Feel Free To Call Campbell’s Customer Service Line: 1-800-257-8443

I will update you all here on the blog on any further developments. Make sure you are subscribed to get our email updates, so you don’t miss it.

Xo,

Vani 

P.S. I have an amazing homemade recipe for V8 here, check it out. 

food babe subscribe healthy habits icon
Healthy Habits
food babe subscribe left green arrow
Subscribe to Food Babe!
Get a free copy of Food Babe's Healthy Habits, enter amazing product giveaways, and be the first to get the latest blog post.
, , ,
Posts may contain affiliate links for products Food Babe has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and Food Babe will automatically receive a small referral fee. Your support is crucial because it helps fund this blog and helps us continue to spread the word. Thank you.

313 Responses to “UPDATE: How Does Campbell’s Soup Not Know What’s In Its Own Products?”

  1. Audrina

    This is awful and it needs to change NOW. I can’t believe I’ve been eating this all this time! Thank you Vani, I am throwing these out of my house.

    Reply
  2. Lola

    God knows what the sugar/fructose content is too… Something else to watch for… #jerf
    http://www.teatopia.com.au

    Reply
  3. Alex

    They should be forced to at least say which SOURCE the “flavoring” is from! I, unfortunately, have developed an allergy to crab. What if they decided to add something from crab & I had an allergic reaction to it?! Grrr…. :(
    (not that I usually eat any of the Campbell’s products anymore….)

    Reply
    • Eris (to Alex)

      Shellfish is one of the top 8 allergens and so it has to be labelled by law.

      Reply
  4. Eris

    Because of this I will be buying more Campbell’s products. V8 is delicious, not vegan perhaps, but who cares. Not me, I’m not a vegan.

    Reply
  5. james

    Trader Joe’s Garden Patch vegetable juice is a great alternative to V8. Nothing artificial. Though It’s high in sodium like V8. The ingredients are short list of simply vegetables. Delicious!!

    Reply
  6. Wendy

    My elderly mother had been eating Campbell’s soup for 4 -5 years. She had high blood pressure during that time. Doctor’s put her on Blood pressure meds which I wasn’t happy with and took her off it. Once I got her off the soup kick, her blood pressure normalized. Stupid me that I didn’t figure it out earlier!! No meds for my 88 year momma!

    Reply
    • Adam H. (to Wendy)

      You personally took your infirm grandmother off doctor-prescribed blood pressure medicine? What the hell is wrong with you?

      Reply
      • Larry (to Adam H.)

        I did it with my dad . I took some of his meds and through them away and change doctors . And he’s going to be 90 . That’s was 4 years ago .

      • Lewis (to Adam H.)

        In response to Larry, because I can’t reply directly: Really? What the hell? Anecdotal evidence is no kind of evidence. You took your father’s life in your own uninformed hands and lucky for you he didn’t die. What would you have done if he had? I’d lay even money you would smugly blame the doctors then.

  7. Paul

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could count on the FDA to police the food producers? Isn’t that their job? The reality is that the U.S. government is owned by corporate America, top to bottom. Why else would the FDA allow companies to use BPA in cans? Why aren’t they doing enough to keep arsenic out of the food supply? Why do they allow food coloring, which has zero nutritive value and causes hyperactivity? Why don’t they stop restaurants from offering fish species that are high on the food chain and full of mercury, cadmium, plastics, and other dangerous lipophilic molecules? Why do they allow appalling practices and polluting practices at food factories? Until U.S. citizens stand up and demand the removal of money from politics, we will continue to suffer from degradation of the environment, contamination of the food supply, and the resulting chronic diseases that touch every family in this country.

    Reply
  8. D.E.

    As a child, you could never get me to drink V-8, I thought it was salty and horrible tasting but always felt guilty disliking it because it was a ‘healthy’ beverage but I feel justified in my initial reaction that it was a disgusting beverage. Better to make my own…

    Reply
  9. ctamm

    Just saw an article about how “pink slime’ is going to be used again since the price of beef is going up. Other than asking if a supermarket/supplier uses pink slime, how can we keep this from happening again?

    We are looking to you to help us out!! DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO US AGAIN!!

    Reply
  10. Shannon

    Everything in Subway is Frozen, but they promote themselves as “Eat Fresh” see the video below. This video will blow your mind.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nc_L5Dp0CI

    Reply
  11. Bryan

    Did you ever think that maybe they don’t label their products as vegan because it would require stricter control and checking on their end? Meaning they would have to spend more money to make the products resulting in higher consumer prices. This would of course lead to more “outrage” from the masses because their soup or juice now costs a few cents more. There is a lot more to these issues than is being shown here. Not to mention vegans make up a smaller portion of the overall market and it may not make sense to Cambell’s to conform to those standards currently.

    Reply
  12. HoaiPhai

    One reason why a food may be vegetarian but not vegan is because it contains eggs, honey, etc.

    Actually, I contacted Campbell’s when Food Babe first posted it and they told me that the Natural Flavours contained no animal products and were derived from citrus and herbs. I posted the info to Food Babe’s Facebook post but the comment was deleted and I was banned from making further comments.

    Frankly, I’m disappointed that Food Babe couldn’t have contacted (or had one of her employees do it) someone at Campbell’s explaining she wanted their input before she went ahead with the story and get their side of the story up front. This whole thing was a nonstarter and shows a lack of professionalism especially when the original concern—meat in vegetable juice and soup—was shown incorrect and then it was spun as Campbell’s incompetence and not Food Babe’s.

    Reply
  13. Emily

    I appreciate you sharing this in depth research attempts in regard to these products. Both V8 and Campbells Tomato Soup.

    What is contained in their ‘flavoring’ is a life threatening decision for me as I contacted an Alpha-Gal allergy from Lone Star Tick bites this year.

    Any ingestion of any mammal products will put me into full anaphylactic shock.

    This allergy is not well known and the more we can share information about it, the better. Again, thanks for this article.

    Reply
  14. Heidi

    The whole article is infuriating to me. I am not vegan and I don’t think I will ever be. But it seems logical that a company should be able to answer simple questions about their product. Why so much run around?

    Reply
  15. Seq (to vic)

    IF there’s no meat or dairy, then why isn’t it VEGAN?? Which means no meat/dairy.

    Reply
  16. Jilikers (to Seq)

    A separate processing facility would be required to qualify as vegan. It’s like saying you have no nuts in your products.

    Reply
  17. ron (to Seq)

    Because the marketing department doesn’t see that it is wort the cost and effort to change the label, vs. the market for Vegan products.

    Reply
  18. Angela (to Melanie)

    People don’t KNOW the details about “flavorings” nor do they know what these foods would taste like without the flavorings, so it is really not accurate for you to sweepingly say “people want flavorings”. People’s tastes are shaped by what has been made available for consumption. If they consume processed foods (like most people in America), they’re going to expect high sodium, “flavored”, etc. So, if the average person doesn’t actually like real orange juice it could very well be because they expect and believe that packaged orange juice is the correct flavor and a deviation from that would be unpalatable. But, this isn’t even about that. Lets just pretend people voted and said they did want flavorings. If they then found out that the flavorings contained ingredients they didn’t want to consume they probably wouldn’t want the flavoring anymore! THAT’s the point! No one is saying take flavorings out. But if your label says “100% Vegetable…” and there is an animal product, that just simply doesn’t make sense.

    Food Babe HAS affected real change.

    Reply
  19. NOV8 (to Melanie)

    You criticize people for wanting to know what they’re eating and say that most people prefer flavorings? Really? You have as much credibility as Campbells. I think that most people prefer fresh squeezed organic orange juice to anything processed, I certainly do. I also think informed consent is important. Nice that you don’t think we need that.

    Reply
  20. Deb (to ron)

    It doesn’t cost them to say that (cost of new labels) when asked if it’s vegan. If that’s the real reason.

    Reply
  21. Ron (to Deb)

    I agree with you on this point. I don’t think their customer service reps are being appropriately prepped. Further, The FDA Agency has not, and does not intend at this time, to develop regulatory definitions for the terms, “vegan” and “vegetarian.” The terms can be used on labels as long as they are truthful and not misleading. – See more at: http://www.sharonpalmer.com/post.php?s=2013-08-23-get-the-scoop-on-vegetarian-labeling-with-karen-duenster-with-karen-duester#sthash.nlGdyDxt.dpuf I would conclude Campbell is just not going to address the vegan issue.

    Reply
  22. LEH (to Mike Smith)

    Having worked customer care, I’d say that you hit the nail on the head. They either had to Google the answer or were given a canned script to follow.

    Rather being in place to help customers (which is what we are told we will do when we are hired), customer care is used as a shield between the CEO’s and the public. It is one of the reasons I moved on from that field.

    I am grateful for how this article is written – angry and to the point but avoiding ad hominem attacks on the support people.

    As for Campbells – bleh. My mother’s homemade soup was always better.

    Reply
  23. kevingt (to Mike Smith)

    Exactly right Mike. I’m sure customer service has no idea what the ingredients are and they have a roladex of answers to provide. They obviously got it wrong on this one but a representative (who I’m sure explored it much deeper than customer service would have) confirmed it is 100% vegetarian. This story is much ado about nothing.. It’s a misunderstanding and a flub by customer service.

    Reply
  24. Maggie Henry (to Michele)

    wow so it is OK with you that 100% vegetarian on the label is a lie? Who are you to tell people to get over it or make assumptions about what they do with their time? Can you say “condescending”?

    Reply
  25. Dawn (to Michele)

    SOO true Michelle! I agree 100%

    Reply
  26. Judy (to Michele)

    Truly condescending and assumes a lot about people who choose to eat a certain way. Whether meat eaters, vegetarian or vegan you can’t lump everyone in a category together. The Food Babe’s entire point is to show what’s wrong with our food source, not solve all the worlds other problems. You know what they say about assuming?? Girl please

    Reply
  27. jay (to kevingt)

    Kevin your an obvious troll, go back to your day job at Campbells soup..

    Reply
  28. Howard (to kevingt)

    It is not a simple misunderstanding. There is something in the product that is not 100% vegetable and is totally unsuitable for a vegan diet and probably for even a vegetarian one too.. If you market as 100% vegetable, then keep what is in the can to being 100% from vegetables. It is so easy!

    Reply
  29. Judy (to Jim)

    The entire point of this is that a multi million dollar company flat out lies about what’s in there product….

    Reply
  30. Howard (to drdon)

    Having perspective still requires honesty! Not blatant lies.

    Reply
  31. NOV8 (to drdon)

    Arguing that organic is unaffordable is just perpetuating a myth. In my supermarket, organic produce is priced only a dollar or two more than pesticide-laden crap. The question then becomes are you worried about the 50% higher price or can you be rational and realize it’s only $2. Actually junk food is MUCH more expensive than whole foods per nurient unit and it lacks critical elements such as enzymes that can be important in helping digest foods, particularly in the ill and elderly.

    Reply
  32. Deborah (to drdon)

    Drdon, Thank you for your reply. I am fully aware of companies that have jumped on the organic band wagon. Besides growing my own fruit & vegetables, I do a lot of research about the brands of organic, non GMO food that I purchase. I am also fortunate to live in a community where locally grown organic produce is available. It is unfortunate that we have to be so diligent about the food we consume & I’ve kept myself educated about these issues since the 1970′s. In my opinion, Campbell’s is just one company of many that should be boycotted. We fight the fights that hit these companies the hardest. With the almighty dollar. Starting by buying only organic, non GMO food is a huge step in the right direction. One of the best organizations for an education about our food system is the Organic Consumers Association. They can be found at http://www.organicconsumers.org Thank you again for your reply.

    Reply
  33. heidi (to Angela)

    My kids often cannot have the flavorings. I need to know for their health. I don’t buy anything Campells, it is the principle of how food is sold that angers me.

    Reply

Leave a Reply