I-Team: Soup Calories Vary from What Menu Claims

News 4 had calories calculated in soup from five eateries and found some surprising results.

By Lynda Baquero
|  Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012  |  Updated 12:14 PM EDT
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Calorie-conscious eaters often rely on posted nutrition information to decide what to eat for lunch, but a News 4 I-Team investigation finds that soup calories can sometimes be as much as 150 calories over what is claimed on the menu. Some soups we sampled also showed fewer calories than the menu claims. News 4 contacted all the companies for comment; some said they were pleased with their results and others pointed out that nutrition calculations can vary slightly, based on many factors.

Calorie-conscious eaters often rely on posted nutrition information to decide what to eat for lunch, but a News 4 I-Team investigation finds that soup calories can sometimes be as much as 150 calories over what is claimed on the menu. Some soups we sampled also showed fewer calories than the menu claims. News 4 contacted all the companies for comment; some said they were pleased with their results and others pointed out that nutrition calculations can vary slightly, based on many factors.

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Calorie-conscious eaters often rely on posted nutrition information to decide what to eat for lunch, but a News 4 I-Team investigation finds that soup calories can sometimes be as much as 150 calories over what is claimed on the menu.

A recent study by the American Medical Association found that the actual number of calories in foods where calories are posted is — on average — 100 calories higher than what’s listed.

The I-Team took a random sample of soups from five different eatery chains to a lab to check them out and compare the calorie information with what was posted.

Here's how the samples came out at Sani-Pure Food Laboratories in Saddle Brook, N.J.:

  • Hale and Hearty chicken vegetable with couscous or noodles. Posted calories for a large is 160, but the sample showed higher, at 198.
  • Hale and Hearty cream of tomato with chicken and orzo. Posted calories for a large is 480 calories, but the sample showed lower, at 437.
  • Subway chicken noodle. Posted calories listed as 110, but the samples showed lower, at 84 and 92.
  • Panera Bread chicken noodle. Posted calories listed at 120, but the lab said it turned up higher, at 157.
  • Panera broccoli cheddar. Posted calories listed at 300, but the lab said it was higher, at 341.
  • Quiznos broccoli cheddar. Posted calories listed at 265, but the lab said it was far lower, at 182.
  • Quiznos chicken noodle. Posted calories listed at 115, and the lab matched closely at 119.
  • Chili's chicken enchilada. Posted calories were 380, but the lab said it was far higher, at 531.
  • Chili's southwest chicken sausage. Posted calories listed as 330, but the lab found far lower, at 231.

News 4 reached out to all the companies in the sampling. A spokesman for Chili’s said "variations in nutritional content may occur due to in-restaurant preparation, portion size variances, among other factors." The spokesman added that Chili's continuously works to reinforce its standards and train workers on preparation.

Hale and Hearty Soups said because the restaurant cooks from scratch with fresh ingredients, "inevitably, there are slight variations between each batch. The fact that our calorie number was a little high in one sample and a little low in the other only confirms this."

Quiznos said it was pleased with its results.

And Panera Bread said there are many factors in nutrition calculations, including different methods, number of samples used, volume portioning and other variations. "Our lab analysis is based on multiple soup samples in order to get a representative example of the soup so we can provide more accurate information to our customers.” 

Subway did not return calls or emails.

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