Sorry Heinz, your new veggie ketchup is just slick marketing

It may contain carrot and butternut squash puree, but kids don't eat anywhere near enough ketchup at any given meal for that to have any impact at all.

Photo: Courtesy of Heinz

Most parents stress when their kid refuses to eat vegetables, and some may choose to hide veggies in their child’s favourite foods. But while whirring up some greens in their fruit smoothie is a worthwhile effort, buying ketchup infused with a “blend of veggies” sadly just isn’t.

Heinz, the company behind every kid’s favourite condiment, has just released Tomato Ketchup with a Blend of Veggies, which is being marketed for “kids who have turned up their noses at their side of veggies.” In addition to tomatoes, the blend is made with carrot puree and butternut squash puree. Heinz says this blend “miraculously offers the veggies parents’ love, without compromising the taste kids love.”

As you can probably guess, a squirt of ketchup can’t replace vegetables at meals. But can parents at least feel a bit better about their picky kids’ veggie consumption if they switch to this new ketchup? Not really. Sorry.

First of all, the suggested serving size of ketchup is one tablespoon. That’s about the right amount for your kid to squirt on their burger or dip their French fries in. But according to the new Canada’s Food Guide, the recommended serving size for vegetables and fruit is to fill half the plate. A tablespoon doesn’t come close.

So just give them more ketchup? Obviously no. Filling half the plate with ketchup would require about a cup of the sweet stuff, and that contains 2,720 mg of sodium and 12 teaspoons of sugar (48 grams). For context: That’s roughly the same amount of sodium found in three Big Macs, and the same amount of sugar in two full-sized chocolate bars.

Little girl refuses to eat a piece of broccoli Why you shouldn’t panic if your kid won’t eat vegetablesIn comparison, a cup of broccoli has 20 mg of sodium and one gram of sugar. That’s what a serving of vegetables looks like. Plus, ketchup contains no fibre, vitamins or minerals, but a half plate filled with vegetables and fruits will provide vitamins A, C, K, potassium, folate and a good amount of fibre. These are all essential nutrients that kids need for normal growth and development. The “nutrition facts” label on Heinz’s new ketchup lists 0 percent for vitamins, minerals and fibre. Literally zero.

Heinz’s press materials also boast that this new ketchup has 25 percent less sugar than its regular version. But don’t get too excited. Regular ketchup contains four grams of sugar per tablespoon, and this Blend of Veggies version contains three grams. So essentially, what’s been removed is the equivalent of one-quarter of a coffee shop-style sugar packet.

Kids should be offered vegetables and fruits at their meals and snacks. Ultra-processed ketchup does not cut it. It’s totally fine for kids to use a bit of ketchup as a condiment, especially if they are using it as a dip to entice them to eat more veggies (my kids like to dip cauliflower in it). But ketchup is just not a vegetable, even when it’s made with tomato, carrot and squash.

The bottom line? Heinz’s “mealtime masterpiece” (ugh) ketchup is not the miracle that parents have been waiting for. It doesn’t matter if you make ketchup with tomatoes, carrots or squash, it’s still not a vegetable. It’s a super sweet and salty condiment that’s meant to be used as a tasty dip, not a side dish, and definitely not a vegetable replacement.

Read more:
Do snacks ‘made with real veggies’ count as vegetables?
10 ways to raise a good eater

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