May 26 2009

Latest court ruling: Pringles are potato chips (sort of)

Ah the British.  So ahead of us in so many ways.  A British court has ruled that Pringles have enough potato in them to qualify as crisps (translation: potato chips) and, therefore, are subject to a Value Added Tax of 15%.  Procter & Gamble, the maker of Pringles, argued against the tax.  Pringles, it says, are not crisps.  Why?  Because their shape and packaging are “not found in nature.”   Tough, said the court.  Pringles are 42% potato.  That’s enough to qualify them as crisps.  Under the law, crisps get taxed.

Pringles are 42% potato?  OK, but what else do they contain?  Here’s the ingredient list: DRIED POTATOES, VEGETABLE OIL, RICE FLOUR, WHEAT STARCH, MALTODEXTRIN, SALT AND DEXTROSE. CONTAINS WHEAT INGREDIENTS. (You will be relieved to note: No artificial ingredients.  No preservatives.)

Hey: potatoes are the first ingredient!  I say tax ‘em.

Update May 25: Here’s what Advertising Age has to say about the Pringles-as-a-vegetable idea.  Pringles, it says, was able to supply the entire world with its product out of one factory in Tennessee, precisely because of its infinite shelf life and packaging.  Ordinary potato chips, alas, get rancid after a while.

  • Jon

    The “light” Pringles contain at least one artificial ingredient: Olestra. Eww…

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/gmunsey Gina Munsey

    It is interesting to note that the US and the UK versions of Pringles contain different ingredients. Overall, the British versions seem to contain fewer ingredients than the American ones.

    Of course, the “no artificial ingredients, no preservatives” adage only applies to the Original variety, not the many flavored options.
    Both the the (US) Cheddar Cheese Pringles and the (UK) Cheesy Cheese Pringles, for instance, contain MSG and artificial flavor.

    ::(US) Cheddar Cheese Pringles::
    DRIED POTATOES, VEGETABLE OIL (CONTAINS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING: CORN OIL, COTTONSEED OIL, SOYBEAN OIL, AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL), RICE FLOUR, WHEAT STARCH AND MALTODEXTRIN. CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: CHEDDAR CHEESE (PASTEURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES), PARMESAN CHEESE (PASTEURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES), WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, WHEY, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, NATURAL FLAVORS, ONION POWDER, DEXTROSE, BUTTERMILK, LACTOSE, DISODIUM PHOSPHATE, CITRIC ACID, NONFAT MILK, LACTIC ACID, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, YELLOW 5 LAKE, TURMERIC EXTRACT (COLOR), YELLOW 6, SOYBEAN LECITHIN, DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR AND YELLOW 5.

    ::UK Cheesy Cheese Pringles::
    Dehydrated potatoes, vegetable oil, vegetable fatcorn flour, cheese flavour(cheese powder, whey powder, flavour enhancer:monosodium glutamate, flavourings, buttermilk powder, onion powder, sugar, Food acid: lactic acid, yeast extract), wheat starch, maltodextrin, emulsifier: E471, salt, rice flour, dextrose.

  • Anthro

    Actually, I am a bit disappointed to see that something with less than 50% potato can be called potato-anything? I am, at the same time, glad to see any junk food be subject to a extra tax!

    Thank you Gina for the ingredients lists, the U.S. one being the most shocking, although I wonder if this is because the U.S. labeling has to use the chemical name of ingredients and (it looks like) the U.K. uses the “common names”? I’m sure Marion knows the answer to this.

  • sid

    In USA when Pringles came on the market, the company fought against Pringles being called “artificial” potato chips, arguing that they are indeed potato chips, despite not being made directly from a potato. So, really, they can’t have it both ways, despite their sleazy corporate legal team attempts.

    They are so bad! In taste I mean.

  • http://frostfirepulse.com/ RichardOn

    Interesting site, but much advertisments on him. Shall read as subscription, rss.

  • http://www.pricebonus.com/ PB

    The “light” Pringles contain at least one artificial ingredient: Olestra. Eww…

  • http://www.lemoneyes-radio.com/ RedMoul

    I so understand, in last paragraph just whole salt and is stated

  • http://Facebook Denis McKeown

    Nice to see such care about food, but what about cigarettes? I recently lerned that there are some 6,000 chemicals in a gigarette, and (when burned) some 9,000 chemicals present in residual smoke. A Marijuana cigarette contains paper and pot! What is more dagerous, pray tell??

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  • Dawn Warren

    Hi, I checked this out as I am wheat intolerant. I really didn’t think that there would be anything other than potato and flavourings etc.. Not happy to day, have a very swollen stomach and feel rubbish!
    I know I should be more careful and I do check labels but Pringles caught me out!