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From: Tethya (
Subject:         Canned Food Labelling
Date: July 8, 2009 at 7:51 am PST

Hi Jeff, just a couple questions... I figure you're an expert on labelling, so you might know the answers.

What are the rules regarding labelling sodium (applies to other nutrients as well, but I'm mainly concerned with sodium) on canned foods? For example, it might read on the label that 1/2 cup of canned beans contains 500 mg of sodium. Does this include the liquid in the can as well or does it mean a 1/2 cup of beans, drained (or even rinsed)?

Also, I've heard different reports on how much sodium you can actually remove by rinsing canned beans; do you know of any definitive numbers? I've heard estimates around a third or so. But again, this depends on how they calculated the original values!

I always hope whenever I eat canned beans that those numbers include the liquid, because I always drain and rinse them in warm water. Nothing makes a better lazy lunch than throwing some chopped fresh veggies and half a can of beans together, so I end up eating quite a few canned beans. I used to cook large batches of dried beans and store them in our deep freezer, so I didn't have to worry about salt at all. But where I am now we aren't allowed to have any extra appliances, and our tiny freezer compartment of the refrigerator only has enough room for frozen veggies! I know there are brands of beans with no no sodium added, but the only ones I've seen here are organic and nearly twice the price.

Thanks in advance for any insight you might have!

Oh, it might be worth mentioning that I'm in Canada, but I think the labelling regulations are nearly the same here and in the US.

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