Canned Foods Deliver Same Nutrition, Taste as Fresh and Frozen Foods, UMass Amherst Researcher Says

AMHERST, Mass. - A study conducted by University of Massachusetts nutrition professor Kenneth W. Samonds on 13 "family-friendly" recipes finds that canned foods provide the same nutrition, taste, and attractive appearance as fresh or frozen foods. The findings send a strong message to parents looking for convenient ways to get their children to eat healthy foods, Samonds says.

The study, conducted at the Amherst campus involving nearly 1,500 students, staff, and local residents, concluded that popular recipes made with canned foods had the same nutritional value, and were as appealing as dishes made with fresh or frozen ingredients. The taste-testing occurred at the Worcester Dining Commons at UMass in mid-March. Samonds worked with Amherst-based consultant Grace Brannan on the project.

The 13 recipes were chosen from well-known cookbooks such as "The Joy of Cooking" and "The Betty Crocker Cookbook," along with some recipes from online sources. They included vegetable pizza, chicken tacos, fruit smoothies, and vegetable soup. Samonds compared protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in each dish. "Recipes that were good or excellent sources of specific nutrients made with fresh or frozen foods are still good or excellent sources when made from canned ingredients," Samonds says.

"The nutritional message that comes from this part of the study is that it is important to involve children with food preparation and learning about nutrition," Samonds says. "The more they know, the more they are involved, the better eaters children will be." Samonds says it''s also important to stress that canned foods are convenient and available all year round. "It''s an easy way to increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, poultry, and lean meats," key components in the dietary recommendations from the recent National Nutritional Summer held in Washington, D.C., Samonds says. He says the experience has also changed the way his family buys foods, and he now includes canned, sectioned grapefruit and canned blueberries in his weekly shopping list.

This study is the first phase of a three-part research project funded by a $200,000 grant from the Canned Food Alliance, a partnership of the American Iron and Steel Institute''s Steel Packaging Council, the Can Manufacturers Institute and some food processors. The second phase will examine "All-American Favorites," and the third will look at "Holiday Classics."

Kenneth W. Samonds can be reached at 413/545-0740 or