Calories in Food: Calories Disappear! Voilà!

Birds Eye Voilà! frozen Alfredo Chicken is a mix of chicken, pasta, and veggies. It could be dinner.


So why does Birds Eye pretend that a serving is just one cup? No wonder each serving has just 240 calories.

Birds Eye is taking advantage of the FDA’s one-cup serving for “foods measurable with cup.” Most people would probably split the 21 oz. bag in two. That would mean 350 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat, and (Yikes!) 870 milligrams of sodium each.

Bertolli Chicken Alfredo & Penne Classic Meal for 2 has 500 calories, 13 grams of saturated fat, and 940 milligrams of sodium per serving. But at least its serving—half of a 24 oz. bag—is honest. Birds Eye’s isn’t.


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25 Replies to “Calories in Food: Calories Disappear! Voilà!”

  1. Someone has too much free time—-using the assumptions and calculations you provided, Birds Eye is still my choice, honestly!

  2. Our biggest problem in this greed filled country is to read everything on the label and avoid what you can’read. Thanks to nutrition newsletter most of what we eat is now labeled.

  3. They always try and fool the public, you ask why? It’s always about the money they can make by fooling us with no regard for our health.

  4. I agree that Birds Eye is misleading, but please let’s not miss the forest by focusing on the trees.
    If we take the real serving of the Birds Eye to be 10.5 oz., half of a bag, it’s still a healthier meal than the Bertolli.
    Compare 33.33 calories per ounce of serving to 41.66, 82.85 mg of sodium to 78.33, and .57 grams of sat fat to 1.083, and I know which of the two I’d buy.
    I have tried the Birds Eye and found it good enough to keep a bag in the chest freezer for nights when real cooking is too much. I have tried the Bertolli, but, based on the numbers, I won’t buy it again.

  5. I am grateful that we have you watching out for us and
    pointing out the hazards we face from clever advertising.
    Children (from Kindergarten on)should be taught how to sift through misinformation.

  6. A good reason to cook your own food. It has the added benefit of no preservatives. And if you go to the farmer’s market, the food may be organic and local.

  7. How about having something on these tidbits to sign to get these companies to CHANGE? These posts are information only. They should ALWAYS BE ACCOMPANIED BY ACTION recipients can take!

  8. Who’s paying off the FDA? What I’d like to see on labeling is the total calories, fat, sodium, etc., etc. in the total package. Most people can do the math. Again, why does the FDA allow these companies the leeway to try and fool us. Your best approach is to avoid pre-packaged food.

  9. I love you CSPI. You taught me to read labels and critically question everything that I put in my mouth. I don’t assume anything is safe or as it first appears. You don’t have to tell me about Bird’s Eye’s Voila frozen chicken alfredo because I would have read the label before deciding whether to buy it. However, it probably irritates some marketing executive somewhere to see his product singled out for criticism.

  10. Most people are so used to eating more than one cupful of anything that when we really see how small of an amount it is, we think we will starve to death! How about adding some brussel sprouts, broccoli, or cauliflower (without all the toppings) to the dinner to add inexpensive, filling and low cal items!

    We, as adults, need to take responsibility for our own eating habits. We have become so accustomed to letting others make our decisions for us that we have stopped thinking for ourselves.

    I haven’t cooked in over a week, but I have managed to eat extremely healthy meals. Yes, it does take some planning and education before going grocery shopping, but what is more important; health or convenience?

    In addition, I am learning that I like a lot of fruits and veggies that I’d never tasted before!

    1. I agree with you. We have been given the info. The decision is ours. Sort of like driving on an expressway where the speed limit is 60 miles per hour and everyone is going 85. We are free to choose our portion size, our product and whether we will do what everyone else is doing because THEY are doing it.

  11. I agree with Jullian. I never buy prepared foods. If it comes in a bag or has more than one ingredient listed (i.e. oatmeal) forget it. If I can’t pronounce an ingredient why would I want to eat it. Thank you… keep the info coming. Please read Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules”. I think you’ll like it.

  12. Other companies do something similar. Campbell’s soup offers 21/2 servings. Who’s going to save 1/2 cup for another time? I divide the can’s contents in two parts, recognizing that it goes up in calories and carbs.
    PS why do you worry so much about calories and without looking at carbs? For diabetics and pre-diabetics carbs are just as important (or even more so). I’ll bet a lot of your readers fall into one of those two categories.

  13. Laura, I haven’t read Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” yet, but have been meaning to do so! Thank you CSPI for your thoughtful and informative information! I need to share this information with my children everyday!

  14. Just shop the perimeter of the supermarket: real vegetables, fruit, chicken, etc. If you don’t want to cook, grab a ready to eat roaster. Skip all processed food UNLESS you’ve read labels and compared, and determined that added sugar and salt is minimal.

    A good example is real greek yogurt (e.g Chobani): compare the protein and sugar levels with the popular brands and you’ll see what I mean. Mix it with fresh fruit, maybe 1/4 cup fruit & nut granola (e.g. Bare Naked), sprinkle on some cinnamon; satisfying and delicious.

    Best book I’ve seen on all this is FAT CHANCE by Robert Lustig. Check out the reviews on Amazon. Sugar is addictive, and salt is too. The more you eat, the more you want. Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist treating with kids with diabetes, and his research and conclusions deal with the underlying chemistry of blood sugar, hormones, and what really causes fat to accumulate. It’s the first explanation I’ve seen that really makes sense.

    I’ve read thirty or so books over the years touching on aspects of this, but don’t put it all together. Lustig reconciles the contradictions in the multiple views of how to eat to stay healthy (Pritikin, South Beach, Mediterranean, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Zone System (aka 40,30,30).

    Lustig’s most surprising assertion is that counting calories is not important, since it’s WHAT you eat that counts. He explains why if you eat the RIGHT things, your hunger will not undermine your determination to not eat too much.

    Gary Taubes has also written authoritatively on this subject (NYT Magazine, and his most recent book: Why We Get Fat). He and Lustig are among those spearheading a movement that is unpopular with those who grow corn for corn syrup, and probably most makers of processed food, but it might just turn around the epidemic health problems resulting from eating the wrong things.

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