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February 13, 2017

When the Chips are Down in Fat, Are the Calories Too?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:40 am

Diet-conscious consumers are probably attracted to low-fat products. And in the case of potato chips, they probably feel a bit less guilty indulging in that treat if it contains less fat.

Enter Cape Cod 40% Reduced Fat potato chips:

Cape Cod potato chips

Now don’t assume that the reduced fat chips on the right have 40% less fat than the Cape Cod regular chips on the left.


fat reduction claim

The reduced fat chips contain 40% less fat than the market leader, Lay’s potato chips. Lay’s has 10 grams of fat per ounce, Cape Cod 40% Reduced has six grams – 40% less as advertised, and regular Cape Cod has eight grams. This means that Cape Cod Reduced Fat chips contain 25% less fat than their own regular chips — still a substantial savings.

Dieters, however, are not only concerned about fat but calories as well. Would you care to venture a guess as to how many fewer calories Cape Cod 40% Reduced Fat chips has compared to their regular chips?


Cape Cod chips nutrition label

What? The lower fat chips have exactly the same number of calories — 140 — as their regular full-fat chips? Yep, that’s what the nutrition (alternative?) facts label says.

How can that be? The portion size is exactly the same – 28 grams — as is the number of chips per portion, but there is 25% less fat in one product.

So we posed that very question to the PR folks at Snyder’s-Lance, the makers of Cape Cod chips. And we also wanted to know whether they felt they had an obligation to dispel the likely consumer misimpression that their 40% fat reduced chips were lower in calories than their own regular variety. In reply, after three attempts to obtain answers, all the company (through their PR firm) would say relevant to our questions was this:

With regards to the calories in each item, we adhere to the strict FDA regulations that dictate how companies must calculate and report nutritional information.

Clearly something just doesn’t add up here. The company should be able to explain to customers how it is possible that their substantially reduced in fat product offers no caloric savings if in fact the label is correct.

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  1. Well, at least there’s one good thing about the reduced fat but not-reduced calorie version: about 40% less sodium than the regular version.
    Still, commercially-made chips are junk food. If you’re wanting a healthier diet, make-your-own microwave potato chips are the way to go!

    Comment by Sunny H — February 13, 2017 @ 9:03 am
  2. What about the SODIUM?
    They have almost halved that amount.
    Usually reduced fat means higher sodium, to make up for that loss of fat flavor.
    Something is definitely amiss!
    Those FDA regulations seem rather strange to the consumer. indeed.
    Would love to see how they relate to this fat issue.

    Comment by Penelope — February 13, 2017 @ 9:10 am
  3. If you calculate the calories, it’s likely rounding error.

    Regular chips:
    Fat = 8g x 9 cal/g = 72 cal
    Carb = 17g x 4 cal/g = 68 cal
    Protein = 2g x 4 cal/g = 8 cal
    Total = 148 cal
    Reduced Fat Chips
    Fat = 6g x 9 cal/g = 54 cal
    Carb = 18g x 4 cal/g = 72 cal
    Protein = 2g x 4 cal/g = 8 cal
    Total = 134 cal
    A difference of 14 calories (-9.5%) doesn’t seem like much of a savings in calories for the reduced fat version. On this website, however, we know the power of misleading marketing, and having that green banner on the front of the package is all they need to fool people.

    I don’t think the PR firm at Snyder Lance would have said that though.

    Comment by Wayne — February 13, 2017 @ 9:24 am
  4. #alternativefat

    Comment by lisa — February 13, 2017 @ 10:57 am
  5. Potato chips are an indulgence and I do not need to look at the labels to know that they are not the zenith of the nutritional charts. You would have to be flat lined not to know otherwise. I particularly enjoy the kettle version that is now copied by everyone. Like chocolates I move with caution.

    Comment by Rick M. — February 13, 2017 @ 10:58 am
  6. I don’t see the problem here. It is stated pretty clearly that it is a 40% reduction COMPARED to other chips. As for calories, they haven’t said there would be a reduction in calories (although it does seem odd that the calories are the same). But I do not understand why the company won’t speak about the calorie bit.

    Comment by Gert — February 13, 2017 @ 3:04 pm
  7. Well Gert they could just say the calorie count is 135 for a serving of lower fat potato chips. Would you still complain??

    Comment by Richard — February 13, 2017 @ 7:54 pm
  8. Richard, My comment was not a complaint.

    Comment by Gert — February 14, 2017 @ 4:36 pm
  9. Lisa, thank you. All is explained.

    Comment by Tbunni — February 15, 2017 @ 4:31 pm
  10. With no change in the ingredients list, I would really like to know how they reduced total fat by 25%, reduced sodium by more than 50%, increased fiber by 50%, and why polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat suddenly appeared on the label, where they were not on the regular fat bag.

    Comment by Bob C. — February 20, 2017 @ 12:31 pm
  11. The 40% reduced fat is not a direct comparison to itself but another leading brand. The label clearly states “Than the leading brand of regular potato chips.”

    Comment by Caroline — February 27, 2017 @ 1:46 am

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