Campbell Ads Challenged

The controversy over health claims made by food advertisements heated up recently when the Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission calling ads for Campbell's soups "false and dangerously misleading."

The Washington-based consumer organization asked the FTC to prohibit the Campbell Soup Co. from making certain health claims about its chicken noodle, bean, pea and tomato soups.

CSPI objected to a Campbell's magazine ad that states that its chicken noodle soup "may help reduce the risk of some forms of heart disease." The group said that the claim is misleading because a typical 10-ounce serving of the soup contains 1,138 mg of sodium. A diet high in sodium may aggravate high blood pressure, a risk factor in heart disease.

Campbell's ads also have been objected to by the National Cancer Institute, which in a letter to Campbell in November asked the company to remove the agency's name from the ads and asked the FTC to investigate the matter. Campbell's did remove NCI's name from the ads. The agency also asked the FTC to investigate the matter at that time. CSPI's petition has been referred to the advertising practices division of the FTC, according to a spokesman. The agency does not comment on ongoing investigations.