A lesson in Product Nutrition Labeling

Written by Matt Denman
February 02, 2020

When you’re watching the nutritional content of food and supplements you’re taking and counting on an app or website like KusogLife to show the details, it’s important to keep in mind that the nutritional content of packaged foods can change, leaving the apps with outdated information. I recently was very surprised to see the kinds of changes that happened to one of my favorite packed foods. I’ve been a fan of Amy’s Dairy Free Vegetable Pot Pie for a few years now. When I first stopped eating animal products, one food I was missing was pot pies such as those from Marie Callender’s. The vast majority of food manufacturers that make pot pies don’t have an animal free version, so when I saw the non dairy pot pie from Amy’s I was excited to give it a try.

Amy's Dairy Free Vegetable Pot Pie - One of my favorite packaged foods
Amy's Dairy Free Vegetable Pot Pie - One of my favorite packaged foods

My first reaction was that it was a great tasting product, especially after spending so long without eating a pot pie. I had also been leaning more towards whole food plant based, with little to no processed foods, so for me it had a lot of flavor. My main reaction was that it wasn’t much food for the calories, so I started cooking some extra frozen peas, carrots, and corn combo with a dash of soy sauce which I would then put the cooked pot pie over to eat as a dish. That worked out really well and bulked out the overall meal which also helped the total calories for the plate volume be more reasonable.

When I first started eating the pot pie, the nutritional label listed the total calories as 360 with 13 grams of fat. That was reasonable to me, though a bit high in calories for what it came with. Some time after my first taste, I noticed that the product seemed a bit more oily than it used to. The way the crust looked, tasted and cut open with the fork had changed. A review on the old box and new showed it had increased by 40 calories to 400 calories for the same size, which included an increase in fat.

This shows how Amy's Dairy Free Vegetable Pot Pie Nutrition has changed over time.
This shows how Amy's Dairy Free Vegetable Pot Pie Nutrition has changed over time.

About a year or so after that, I noticed the pot pie was even more oily than before. As I did a deeper review I saw the calories were now listing at 470 for the same sized pie and total fat had jumped from the original 13g to 27g. Overall, that is a really big jump from the original 360 calories to 470. I was really surprised by this. I knew that manufacturers will occasionally change the ingredients in a product without changing its name or packaging, but this was a big deal. The only reason I had noticed it was due to the texture of the crust getting more oily with each change in the ingredients.

As I was researching this, I noticed that the various places I go to find nutritional information about food were all out of date. Some still showed the old 360 calories, some showed 400 calories, but non have yet been updated to reflect the current 470 calories the pot pie actually has.

The lesson here for me is that changes in processed food formulations happen regularly and often go unannounced and with no changes to the packaging to reflect the change. Sometimes packaging is updated but the formulation of the product doesn’t. If you’re watching calories eaten versus burned, it is important to verify the basic nutrition information is still accurate in the app versus what you’re actually eating.

Now, I have to reconsider the Amy’s product because it has changed so much since I first started eating it. I’m not really sure it has a place in my diet, though perhaps once a month or so. I had gotten into the habit of eating them 3 or more times a week, which is too much for where I want to be eating.