October 25/Pittsburgh/PRNewswire -- Food packaged in steel cans can be just as nutritious (and sometimes more nutritious) than fresh and frozen varieties, yet many Americans surveyed on behalf of the Canned Food Alliance(1) believe otherwise. Less than half (46%) of those surveyed recognize that canned foods count toward the government's recommended dietary guidelines. Furthermore, nearly 40% of consumers believe canned foods are less nutritious than frozen, and nearly 60% believe they are not as nutritious as fresh foods.

The CFA commissioned a consumer survey to better understand consumers' attitudes and perceptions of canned foods to help inform those efforts. The survey uncovered that, while the majority (84%) of Americans prepare or eat meals made with canned foods at least a couple times a month and one-third (34%) rely on them at least three times a week, many consumers do not appreciate all of the benefits canned foods offer.

Key survey highlights include:
Canned Foods Count Toward Dietary Goals – Less than half (46%) of Americans surveyed realize that canned foods count toward the U. S Department of Agriculture's dietary recommendation goals. The new MyPlate food icon issued by the USDA provides guidance on how Americans should fill their plate for more healthful eating.  Canned foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, meat and seafood, are among the recommended ways that consumers can ensure they are getting a proper balance of nutrients, the CFA notes.

When It Comes to Nutrition, All Forms Count – Research shows many canned foods can be as nutritious and in some cases more nutritious than their fresh and frozen counterparts(2). Yet, according to the survey, more than half (57%) of Americans disagree that canned food is as nutritious a fresh and more than one-third (37%) disagree that canned food is as nutritious as frozen.

Canned Foods and Lower Sodium Are Compatible – Only half (55%) of those surveyed know that canned foods can be low in sodium, despite the multitude of no salt, low sodium and reduced sodium options available on grocery shelves. Recent research involving canned beans demonstrates that rinsing and draining can reduce sodium levels per serving by 41%. Draining alone results in a 36% decrease.(3)

Steel Cans are a Safe Form of Packaging – The steel food can is one of the safest forms of food packaging available, says the CFA, but only half (51%) of Americans surveyed realize it. In a 2005 review of nearly 4,500 food-born-related outbreaks and more than 138,500 cases of illness, commercially produced canned fruits and vegetables did not directly account for a single food-borne outbreak.(4) 

(1) Canned Food Alliance telephone survey of 1,009 American adults conducted by CARAVAN® Survey September 8-11, 2011. Margin of error +/-3.1%.
(2) Rickman, J., Barrett, D. and Bruhn, C. "Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables." Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Vol. 87. Issues 6 and 7. April and May 2007.
(3) R. Duyff, J. Mount, J. Jones. J of Culinary Science and Technology, Vol 9, Issue 2; 2011.
(4) Center for Science in the Public Interest Outbreak Alert: Closing the Gaps in Our Federal Food-Safety Net, Nov. 2005.

 From the October 25, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.