Consumer Reports And New York Times Ask Why There's So Much Air In Packages

Padding chip bags with air is a pretty well-understood practice by now–supposedly it helps prevent the chips from being crushed. But what’s the purpose of similar packaging tricks in frozen fish, or boxes of instant rice? After a recent Consumer Reports article questioned the amount of air in packages at the grocery store, New York Times reporter Andrew Adam Newman asked two of the manufacturers for an explanation.

An Uncle Ben’s rice spokesperson told Consumer Reports it was to let the rice breathe, but when the New York Times called to follow up on that explanation, they told Newman that their representative misspoke and that it was really to get a good seal on the bag.

When asked to explain the huge packaging for its Mrs. Paul’s frozen fish, Pinnacle Foods said, “Our fish fillets remain separate from each other to retain their shape, texture and flavorful coating.” Are you sure it’s not just for comical effect, Pinnacle? The author of the Consumer Reports piece, Tod Marks, told the paper that coworkers were walking by the photos of the fish and laughing at it.

“Food Companies Explain the Amount of Air in the Bag” [New York Times]