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Lean Cuisine Sued For Allegedly False Preservatives-Free Claim


Photo: Chrome Delivery

Lean Cuisine touts that several of its “Craveables” products are preservative-free, and declares it on the labels. One woman, however, believes that not to be true.

Grubstreet reported from TMZ that an unnamed woman filed a complaint with the company regarding this preservative-free claim. Her issue particularly stems from the use of citric acid in a Craveables Four Cheese Pizza, and why it can be on the label without it being used as a preservative. While Lean Cuisine keeps the preservatives-free claim with this on the label, several of its competitors do not have this claim – and have citric acid on the label.

FDA labeling regulations require ingredients that are being used as preservatives to be labeled as such on the products’ ingredient labels, and for the function to be clearly defined (ie. “to promote color retention” or “to retard spoilage”).



Photo: Lean Cuisine

There’s clearly a lot of additives and ingredients in the label above, but none are declared as preservatives. Nestle, the parent company for Lean Cuisine, has issued a statement to TMZ that their labels do comply with USDA and FDA regulations. If that is the case, how could Lean Cuisine have something like citric acid – a well-known preservative – on the label, and yet not describe it as one and mark it as preservative-free?

From a food science perspective, citric acid is often used as a preservative. However, it does serve other purposes in food – predominantly, from a flavor perspective. Citric acid is often used to help promote – not preserve – the acidity of certain foods, like the tomato sauce in the pizza. So, if citric acid’s purpose is to be a flavor additive – and not a preservative, then Lean Cuisine’s label remains accurate from the citric acid perspective.

What’s interesting to note is that the woman suing Lean Cuisine missed out on another wildly popular preservative in the food industry – tricalcium phosphate, which is used in the seasoning blend. While also an acidifying preservative like citric acid, tricalcium phosphate in seasonings is typically used to fortify the seasoning with calcium and phosphorous. So both major preservatives found in Lean Cuisine can technically be labeled as not preservatives based on their presumed function – a nifty loophole that the company is using to keep a preservatives-free claim.

If the suit does make it to court, hopefully we’ll be able to see those uses defined more clearly by Lean Cuisine as they try to keep their preservative-free claim.

Packaged Food

“20 Killer Frozen Meals” — The Unhealthiest of the Frozen Food Section

Recently The Daily Beast partnered with GoodGuide, a research company that evaluates consumer products based on health and social impact, to compile a list of the 20 most detrimental frozen meals to your health. Over 1,300 frozen meals were rated on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the most heart stopping and 10 being better for your health than average.

Many of us already know that frozen meals aren’t the best for us. They usually contain a ton of added trans fat, sodium, and preservatives that may taste good, but ultimately reek havoc on our bodies. With our busy schedules, many of us often sacrifice health for convenience. And who’s to blame? What’s easier than coming home from a long day than popping a frozen chicken pot pie into the microwave? However, after taking a look at this list you may want to ask more critically, is my health worth the time?

Here are some of the surprising frozen dinners that made “20 Killer Frozen Meals” list:

#20: Lean Cuisine Sesame Chicken
GoodGuide Health Rating: 2.3
Calories: 330
Saturated Fat (g): 1
Carbohydrates (g): 47
Protein (g): 16

#14 Kid Cuisine Fried Chicken Dinner 
GoodGuide Health Rating: 2
Calories: 470
Saturated Fat (g): 5
Carbohydrates (g): 48
Protein (g): 24

#1: Hungry-Man Grilled Bourbon Steak Strips
GoodGuide Health Rating: 1.6
Calories: 620
Saturated Fat (g): 3.5
Carbohydrates (g): 94
Protein (g): 30




Packaged Food

Lean Cuisine Reveals Three New Spring Roll Flavors

Lean Cuisine has expanded their frozen food menu by adding a line of Spring Rolls to their repetoir. The new varieities include Garlic Chicken, Thai-Style Chicken and Fajita-Style Chicken Spring Rolls.

The Fajita-Style Chicken Spring Rolls come complete with white meat chipotle chicken mixed in with corn, black beans, “zingy” bell peppers and diced onion. The Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls utilize similar white meat chicken, garlic, spinach, caramelized onions and parmesan cheese. The last of the bunch, the Thai-Style Chicken Spring Rolls, utilize white meat chicken, shredded cabbage and julienne yellow carrots in a spicy red coconut curry sauce. This is some seriously serious frozen food game we got going on here!