5 healthier packaged foods

Packaged foods are getting an ingredient list makeover. Here are five companies that are making their packaged foods healthier

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microwave meal

1. Nestlé

Its Lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s meals no longer have preservatives, such as sodium benzoate, and Nestlé just launched the preservative-free Sauté Sensations line of frozen meals. Leslie Chester, president of the frozen meals division for Nestlé Canada, says, “We have a checklist: ?It has to taste great. It has to have no preservatives. It has to meet the Heart and Stroke Foundation Health Check nutritional requirements for sodium [less than 720 mg per serving]. And it should have a minimum of two servings of vegetables per serving.”

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2. Campbell

Its new tomato soup, launching in November, will be concentrated with more tomatoes for extra flavour, allowing the sodium to be reduced from 640 mg to 480 mg. “What you expect to be in tomato soup is there, and what you wouldn’t expect isn’t,” says Philip Dionne, president of Campbell Company of Canada. All of its new flavours have 480 mg of sodium or less, and now Campbell is rewriting more than 100 of its soup recipes. Dionne expects the formulas to start rolling out next year.

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3. McCain

Gone are hard-to-read food additives-can you say erythorbate?-in its frozen pizzas and potatoes. “We want to make our products with ingredients that you would use if you were making it at home,” says Heather Crees, vice-president of marketing for McCain Foods Canada. Another goal was to cut salt. “We reduced the sodium in our pizzas by 10 to 15 percent and in our Superfries by an average of 25 percent,” says Crees. They will still use sodium phosphate (baking powder) to retain the natural colour of potatoes.

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4. Quaker

Quaker (which is owned by Pepsi-QTC Canada and known for its oatmeal and snack foods like granola bars) has revamped its Crispy Mini rice cakes to now contain whole-grain as the main ingredient. The company has also introduced a new breakfast convenience food, Whole Grain Oats to its roster of instant oatmeal products. Free of additives and preservatives, the only ingredient on the label is, in fact, whole-grain rolled oats.

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5. Hellmann’s

Hellmann’s (owned by Unilever brand) will be updating its low-fat version of mayonnaise, which will hit stores in mid-August. Among the ingredients to be cut from the current recipe: xanthan gum, phosophoric acid and citric acid. The 15-ingredient list will go down to 12 (water, canola oil, modified corn and potato starch, liquid whole egg, sugar, salt, vinegar, spices, lemon juice concentrate, sorbic acid, natural flavour, colour, and calcium disodium EDTA (a preservatives for eggs).

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