Deception on the Label

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 6

deception on the label of a popular brand of coconut milk

While shopping recently, I picked up a couple of cans of Thai Kitchen whole coconut milk and happened to notice when I got home that the amount in each can is now only 13.66 oz – down from 14 oz the last time I bought some.     As you can see from my photo below, the two cans look identical in size and shape.   The price of the two cans is also the same at $1.99 each.   The only way you would know the difference is if you happened to notice the change in the number of ounces, AND if you happened to have one more can of the previous size still in your pantry (like I luckily had so I could take this photo as proof).

When I initially noticed this, I was a bit sad as it appeared on the surface that even companies that produce a good product like Thai Kitchen, one of the few brands of coconut milk on the market with no preservatives, fall into the trap of using deceptive packaging to trick the consumer.    No matter how long you’ve been buying a particular product and no matter how excellent the reputation of the company that produces it, there is simply no substitute for reading the labels of your favorite brands every so often.   Ingredients can change without notice to something that is unacceptable to you and your family.    Slight labeling changes can reduce the value that you thought you were getting for your money.
After I wrote this, I called up Thai Kitchen to see if the company had been recently purchased by a Big Food company as I thought this might explain the labeling change.     Small companies founded on the ideals of integrity and transparency can quickly lose their conscience when they are gobbled up by a corporate behemoth and become just one more line item on the profit/loss statement!
To my delight, the customer service lady I spoke with was extremely courteous and patiently explained to me that the company had, in fact, changed the label to more accurately reflect the weight by volume in the can and that the 14 oz label used before was actually more like 13.66 oz!   In effect, there had been no change in the amount in the two cans, only a more accurate label used.   She even offered to send me some product coupons as a thank you for the feedback I had given the company regarding this labeling change.
Having been burned in the past by these types of changes, I was so relieved to be totally wrong in this case!   Even still, I thought this experience could prove helpful and a lesson for us all that you are absolutely not safe from tricks and outright deception when you shop at the health food store.    Always read your labels and once a product has passed your inspection, re-read the label every few months to ensure that the quality that caused you to buy it in the first place is still intact.    Don’t hesitate to call the company if necessary to clarify a labeling or ingredient change.     Who knows?   You might even score some free coupons for your trouble!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

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