MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) -- Ever look at a food label and wonder what an ingredient with a big name -- say maltodextrin -- is?
The Campbell Soup Co. is trying to explain.
The Camden-based food conglomerate is adding asterisks and something like footnotes to a line of reformulated Select Harvest soups aimed at making the growing number of careful label-readers among grocery shoppers more comfortable.
Campbell may be the first food company to use in this manner a punctuation mark best known to call attention to contentious baseball records, says Marcia Mogelonsky, a senior research analyst with Mintel International in Chicago.
"You've got to demystify a lot of these products because there are so many products people could buy instead," she said.
Campbell's says the 44 new soups have no MSG, artificial flavors or high-fructose corn syrup, along with lower sodium content and fewer ingredients with those scary-sounding names. For instance, most preservatives have been dropped in favor of new techniques, such as infusing chicken chunks in some soups with onion juice to keep them plump and moist, says Colin Watts, general manager of the Campbell Soup Co.
"We believe we've simplified our soups," he said.
Watts said the company plans to reformulate other lines of soup and add footnotes where necessary.
Mogelonsky says Campbell's still has one disadvantage against the organic soup lines that are increasingly the competitors -- they can boast they never used ingredients with names that sound like chemicals.
Campbell's notes maltodextrin is also used in some organic soups.
Maltodextrin, as explained next to the main ingredient list on the new soups, is a carbohydrate made from potato or corn starch.