We've long recommended McCutcheon's bottled marinara sauce because of its great flavor and the low sodium level on its label—only 185mg per half-cup listed. When we tested three batches, though, they came in at more than three times that number. We talked to Vanessa McCutcheon-Smith, and she attributed the difference to a change in the supplier of the canned tomatoes they use as a base (no salt is added during the cooking). It's not routine to test a batch when the tomatoes change, she explained—only to calculate nutrition based on numbers provided by suppliers.
"Knowing what I know about how things change on the supply chain, I don't put a lot of merit in the information on food panels," she added.
Nutrition label numbers are allowed 20% of wiggle room, but the FDA does few random audits. As a general rule: Trust your taste buds; if something tastes salty, it probably is, whatever the label says.
Michael's of Brooklyn and Dell' Amore are tasty and pretty low in sodium—on their labels and in our lab tests.