What Happened to the Calories in French’s Mustard?

This is a guest blog post by Carol Harvey, Director of food/nutrition labeling and product development at Palate Works.

French’s is playing up how low they go… as in calories. One serving of Classic Yellow Mustard has 0 calories per 1 tsp serving on the Nutrition Facts. The average mustard has 5 calories, meaning 3 – 7 calories (because it is supposed to be rounded to the nearest 5), although FDA allows any amount under 5 calories to be expressed as 0, so French’s Classic could very well have 4.5 calories.

The salty irony comes in the ad copy: “Farmers make our mustard zero calories, not scientists… 100% natural, no calories or gluten, just flavor.”

Ummm… actually, it is a) the labeling regulations (rounding rules, etc.), and b) the preponderance of water vs. mustard seed (the only ingredient with calories and mustard flavor) that gives the product “0” calories.

Most mustards have vinegar, then mustard seed, then salt/spices as the first/primary ingredients (and also no gluten). French’s Classic has vinegar, water, then mustard seed – i.e., more water than mustard seed. Who made the mustard so watery? Probably food scientists… perhaps so they could call it “zero calorie” (and/or save on the cost of mustard seed, and/or market something to those who like less mustard flavor)… as if 5, or even 10, calories per serving is going to make anyone fat.

Even their own Spicy Brown Mustard has more mustard seed (and flavor), and less water…  tipping the calorie scales at a “massive” 5 calories.

For comparison, Gulden’s Spicy Brown has no water and still only 5 calories.

Nice try, French’s, but it might make sense to run these “0 calorie” ads by a nutrition labeling person next time.

Carol Harvey has been a nutrition labeling and product development consultant for over 15 years. She can be reached at palatemail@yahoo.com.

  • Youre an

    This is the most retarded article ever. Just shut the F up and enjoy mustard, it’s totally fine. Idiots.

    • Kelli

      I disagree. It’s important to be skeptical of packaging claims. Is this mustard being artificially flavored? Does 0 calories actually mean 0 calories? Nutrition labeling can be convoluted and misleading. The point is, most people just want to enjoy mustard, but you can’t trust that what’s in that bottle is what it claims to be on the front.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      If you spend your time reading a post by idiots, what does that make you?

  • Karen

    It’s better to be educated & aware of labeling gimmicks rather than just enjoying something.

  • Alyssa

    It’s not the 5 calories that are a big deal, it’s the fact that they don’t need to be completely honest and factual in the labeling. I’m still gonna eat mustard, 5 calories or not, but I would like to at least know exactly what I’m getting.

  • MBev

    Thanks for the article Fooducate. I despise the trickery food companies indulge in to con consumers, and as a marketer I am ashamed of many of the deceitful practices employed in the marketing processed food.

    “youre an”: You must work for French’s, or some other conniving food company..

  • RealBebopMusic

    Always good to know whats in any commercially prepared product that you consume but whats all this flap about 0 vs 5 calories? Mustard is NOT a food, its a condiment. And as with any condiment, why dont you just let taste be your guide as in the real world, you will consume such a small amount of it anyway. I’m just saying….

  • DarrylM

    you wrote that labeling regulations allow the zero calorie designation. And you admonish them for following the rules. Are you angry that they didn’t use you as a consultant? Don’t be a hater, find something real to write about.

    • Carol H

      No admonishment for following the rules… simply pointing out that ALL mustard is low in calories, and showing 0 calories is more a factor of French’s having less mustard seed (and more water) in each serving… nothing to do with “farmers,” as the French’s ads imply. How is pointing out misleading/false advertising “hating” or “unreal”?

      • DarrylM

        So, your admonishment is for the recipe then, French’s has a different recipe than others so Bad Frenchs?

        Do they not get their mustard seeds from farmers? You should have pointed that out in the article. I’d not buy it if the mustard seeds did not come from farmers. That would be a great article, mustard seeds used in French’s mustard not from farmers!

        There is nothing misleading here. Find something that is misleading to write about. Other fooducate articles do.

        • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

          We get your point DarryIM. Thanks for your comment and let’s move on now…

  • http://gigieatscelebrities.com/ GiGi Eats Celebrities

    It’s always a good idea to read the INGREDIENTS LIST – Mustard is NOT always what it seems!

  • Lisa

    I’ll always vouch for ingredient awareness, but if you have to count the calories in mustard, there’s a problem.

  • tatacrio

    Beyond the fact that they can “mislabel” since regulations allow rounding, it’s kind of funny they add so much water and have the “natural flavors” that some food chemists created with who knows what… that is probably why it still tastes like mustard… :)

  • Grumpy Old Man

    I’ll bet French’s has more water so you can squirt Ot out of those plastic squeeze bottles we all love. Mustards with less water have to be applied with a knife is some sort.

  • json

    French’s mustard has 4 calories per serving and 316 calories per 14oz bottle. Thanks to Lobbying / Congress the product is intentionally mislabeled as 0 calories.