Foster Farms: Consumers pay attention to salt in poultry

07-06-2010 | | |

According to Foster Farms, consumers are more vigilant about salt intake than ever, are saying “No” to plumping and designer salt, and favor fresh, minimally processed foods.

Foster Farms says that leading health organisations like the Institute of Medicine are calling on the FDA to set formal sodium standards. The FDA has outlined a plan for proposed regulation and some food producers have already pledged to reduce sodium content.

A new survey by Foster Farms reveals that consumers are paying more attention to sodium than ever, believe sodium levels should never have been as high in the first place, and are taking action to ensure the foods they depend on for healthy meals aren’t loaded with salt. This marks the expansion of Foster Farms’ “Say No to Plumping” consumer awareness campaign dedicated to emphasising the company’s longtime commitment to never “plumping” its fresh, raw chicken with added sodium, saltwater or preservatives.

To gauge current consumer mindsets about salt, Foster Farms commissioned an NSON Opinion Strategy survey of 1,000 West Coast consumers in April. The survey found that the majority of consumers are highly aware of sodium intake and are increasingly skeptical of “natural” and “healthy” labels. Consumers prefer fresh, minimally processed foods for a healthy diet. The survey also found that consumers are now highly aware of added sodium in supposedly healthy foods like “plumped” chicken.

– 77% of consumers polled watch sodium intake at least some of the time, with 62% watching intake all or most of the time now, compared to 53% last year.

– 70% believe that even food labeled “natural” or “healthy” can be harmful to health. Just 4% of consumers consider foods labeled “natural” to be the healthiest choice.

– While 55% of consumers believe that foods low in sodium can be considered healthy, the vast majority of consumers (90%) ultimately trust fresh, minimally processed foods as truly healthy and natural.

– 70% say it is unnecessary for companies to engineer lower salt alternatives like “designer” salt and that companies should have kept sodium naturally low in the first place.

– 62% are concerned by what they read on food labels. 30% feel “overwhelmed”. One third of consumers feel that shopping for healthy foods has become too complicated. These consumers don’t know “who or what to trust” and feel that the “rules” of what constitutes healthy food are always changing.

– The majority of consumers (56%) feel that labels are only somewhat accurate and therefore less reliable.

– 70% of consumers are now aware that some fresh, raw, unseasoned chicken labeled ‘natural’ at the grocery store may have been injected or plumped with up to 15% or $1.50 worth of saltwater. This compared to 37% last year. A total of 86% say they don’t think fresh chicken plumped with saltwater should be allowed to be labeled “natural”.

With the majority of consumers now aware of and concerned about “plumping” – or the practice of some chicken companies injecting fresh chicken with saltwater and labeling it “natural,” – Foster Farms announces that it has launched the second phase of its “Say No to Plumping” consumer education campaign to help consumers identify and avoid higher sodium, fresh chicken products while promoting label integrity in the quest for healthy foods.

“We launched ‘Say No to Plumping’ last year to make consumers more aware of hidden sodium in fresh foods, specifically fresh, raw chicken,” said Ira Brill, Director of Communications for Foster Farms. “This survey affirms not only that we succeeded in raising awareness, but that consumers care enough to take action. More than 50,000 consumers have already signed a petition urging the USDA to stop allowing ‘plumped’ chicken to be labeled ‘natural.’ It’s a sign that there is a growing consumer movement to reclaim ‘natural’ and choose simple, fresh foods that they don’t have to decode.”

“This year, we want to inspire consumers to spread the word further, take action against misleading labeling, and help their family and friends know what to look for in healthy foods,” continues Brill. “Fresh chicken is a staple for many families’ healthy diets and consumers should be able to trust that they are getting the nutritious ingredient they expect, not a salt-laden imitation.”


Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist