Update: Campbell’s Confirms Their Tomato Soup is Not Even Vegetarian

You may have read my Goodbye to Campbell’s Soup post from a while back in which I shared mounting suspicions that many of Campbell’s seemingly vegan products contain animal ingredients. I’ve recently been corresponding with a representative of the company on Twitter and they have confirmed that they do not offer any vegan soups, and all but one are not vegetarian either. When pressed, the rep explained that there are unspecified animal ingredients in their products which are classified as “natural flavorings” and thus not disclosed explicitly on the label. See the screenshot below for more details.

Like I said in my original post, the most unsettling thing about this for me is not so much the presence of meat and cheese in their products (I’m certainly used to lots of foods I used to eat not being vegan), but the complete lack of transparency in their product packaging. Readers, how do you feel about this?

Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 10.29.38 AM

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23 thoughts on “Update: Campbell’s Confirms Their Tomato Soup is Not Even Vegetarian

  1. Pingback: Goodbye to My Beloved Campbell’s Soup | (JUST ABOUT) VEGAN

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  3. This is why I love food labelling in the UK. If it is vegetarian or vegan, it states this on the packaging either with the ingredients list, with a ‘V’ symbol, or a Vegan/Vegetarian Society approved logo. I used to spend forever in Australian supermarkets reading through every single ingredient on packaging.
    I’ve just checked my pantry and I have some Campbell’s Creamy Vegetable cup soup, which does say ‘Natural Flavourings (Contains Celery)’ but the packaging is marked as ‘suitable for vegetarians’. It lists milk protein though, so not vegan. There is also a picture on the side of the box for their Tomato Soup which also has the ‘V’ symbol on it, so maybe they use different recipes in the UK? Such a shame that they can’t just be clearer and more consumer-friendly with their packaging everywhere. And that they can’t adapt their recipe slightly to be suitable for a larger customer base. Seems crazy, really!

    • How interesting! Do you know how that labeling system came about and how it’s regulated? Is it something that food companies must seek out and pay for, or are mainstream products just assessed by default? It would be incredible to have something like that here in the US. I feel like I’ve seen some sort of vegan stamp of approval on a few specialty products here, but that doesn’t seem like quite the same thing. And it’s so bizarre that the UK version of their tomato soup seems to be vegetarian, when the US version is not. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t just simplify and use the same recipe across the board. So frustrating! In any case, thanks for your comment and the info!

      • So I have looked into it a little more and according to the UK’s Food Standards Agency, “The terms ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ in food labelling are used voluntarily by industry. Where these terms are absent, consumers rely on the list of ingredients.”

        So it is up to a company whether or not they label their food as ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’, however, if they choose to label it as such, they must adhere to certain standards and regulations and they could potentially be taken to court for mislabelling. Pretty much all supermarket-own and major brand products will have this statement of a ‘V’ symbol somewhere on the packet if applicable (like these: http://tinyurl.com/m63oulx).

        When it comes to ‘Vegan Society’ or ‘Vegetarian society’ stamps on packaging you have to pay to be accredited. I see this not just on food packaging but things like cleaning products and beauty products/cosmetics sometimes, which is also great.

        I’m not sure why the food labelling here is better than other countries (including Australia and Canada where I have also lived). A lot of food is also labelled ‘halal’ or ‘kosher’, so I think food labelling for religious reasoning is a big thing in the UK and maybe that’s where this stemmed from? I’m really not sure but it’s such a simple thing that makes shopping so much easier! Particularly when there are sneaky ingredients that you may not know are not vegetarian/vegan-friendly hiding in there. Fingers crossed that it becomes more of a universal practise soon enough.

        I feel a bit inspired to write a post about this now! Thanks! 😉

      • Thanks for all of this info! Here in the US, there are various kosher and halal certifications, but I think they are independently regulated by Jewish and Muslim groups. Maybe vegetarians and vegans in the US just need to unite and form a food labeling coalition… In any case, this definitely would make a great blog post. Let me know if you end up writing it!

  4. I already wanted to stop buying canned food for ecological reasons… I love Campbell’s tomato soup., but if it’s not vegan (which is really weird. I mean, tomato soup should be mainly made of tomatoes, right?) I’m gonna give it for good! 😦 Anyways, homemade is always better on many levels! 🙂

    • Lots of tomato soups, even homemade, are made with cream. It’s pretty standard. I don’t think non-vegan tomato soup is a weird concept at all.

  5. I pretty much gave up on most commercial soups because, like the Campbell’s situation, it’s fighting an uphill battle. I have since learned to love (LOVE!!) making a pot of homemade soup. A delicious, healthy soups whose ingredients you control. It’s much more fun, too, to share a pot of lovely vegan homemade soup with someone rather than a bland can of icky Campbell’s beef & bean.

  6. Thanks for your comments, Jule and Beatlebird. I completely agree that homemade soup is the way to go. I’m usually a from scratch kind of girl and making soup is one of my favorite ways to play around in the kitchen, but I just had such a sentimental attachment to Campbell’s Tomato Soup. I guess this is the incentive I needed to start perfecting my own version. Fingers crossed I get a ton of tomatoes in this week’s CSA delivery…

  7. Just a small tip? One thing I’ve found that works really well is to make a HUGE pot of tomato soup on the weekend, and then can several jars of it to keep in the pantry. That way, I know 100% what’s gone into the soup (vegetarian + gluten-free), and it’s in the pantry, ready-to-eat on those occasions when dinner would consist of some toast and a can of soup. ❤

    • Great tip, Cate. I love to have delicious soups waiting in the fridge for those days when I’m too exhausted to cook. Any secret tricks you can recommend for a great tomato soup?

  8. When it comes to canned soup, if I can’t find Amy’s, Progresso makes good soup— and they’re good about labeling their products. Just check the back, near the ingredients list, and the label will specify if it’s veggie or not. (I haven’t eaten Campbell’s in years, as I don’t trust their labels.)

    • Thanks for the tip! I often buy Amy’s, but it’s good to know Progresso is dependably trustworthy. It seems like you were ahead of the curve with not trusting Campbell’s– what tipped you off?

      • It was when I noticed they labeled their vegetable soup “vegetarian.” I got suspicious, and read the ingredients label— something I do carefully to this day— and yup, almost all of Campbell’s products has chicken fat or beef extract in them.

  9. e-mailed campbells after reading this article and received the following response back tonight:

    “Mr. John Rivera,

    Thank you for contacting us.

    V8 100% Vegetable juice is a completely vegetarian product which uses only natural flavorings derived from plants and vegetables.

    Also, our Tomato Soup product is vegetarian. It doesn’t use any flavors derived from meat/seafood/poultry/dairy. The information provided by our consumer care team on Twitter in this instance was incorrect and we’ll be reviewing our responses around this issue.

    Thank you for visiting the Campbell Soup Company website.

    Campbell Soup Company Web Team”

    • Thanks for this info, John. Do you trust it? I’m still not sure what to make of it. One thing that still seems suspicious is that their Vegetarian Vegetable soup is kosher, but Tomato Soup is not. If both soups are vegetarian and are presumably using vegetables from the same source, you would think they would have gotten certification for both, not just the one. Because kosher rules are so strict, they will not approve something as kosher if it has even trace amounts of unapproved animal or dairy ingredients. I think there is more to this story and we all need to continue to investigate….

      • I take any response from any big corporation like that with a grain of salt – we don’t eat any of their soups in our household or juices – it did however make me wonder about other products they produce as I know there are a few sauces on our shelves from time to time. one thing I noticed in the statement just released also – they only specify about two products – making me wonder about the “natural flavors” in every other product of theirs that is “seemingly” vegan

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