Trader Joe's has stopped carrying Bella Vita Low Carb pasta because, in a third-party independent test of the product, the carb count didn't match the carb count on the label. According to Dianne O'Connor, spokesperson of Trader Joe's in their Needham office, "There was a discrepancy in the last batch. The numbers were off. We don't carry that product any longer." It seems, according to the grocery manager, Trader Joe's was alerted by a third party to test this batch. However, according to Dianne O'Connor, Trader Joe's regularly tests vendor's products via third party labs.
The products were immediately pulled from the shelves after the testing so few, if any, customers purchased the product.
While trying to personally track down this product for the last six months, I can testify that it was a big seller. It sold out all the time. According to my local Trader Joe's manager, when it was labeled soy pasta years ago, they couldn't give it away. As soon as it was delivered as low carb pasta, they couldn't keep it on the shelves.
I called Racconto, the parent company of the Bella Vita line, to ask them why this batch was different from the previous batches, but they didn't return my phone call by the time I posted this article.
There has been a lot of arguments as to what is low carb, how to label low carb food, etc. Atkins got dinged a few years ago by the FDA so it and other companies have started using "net carbs" to try and distinguish between high glycemic carbs and low glycemic carbs. Many "established" groups do not recognize a difference between high glycemic and low glycemic carbs. (Read Atkins and the Aliens that Cause Global Warming for more background.)
There is even a new trade group that has just started to address these problems, the Carbohydrate Awareness Council. This reminds me of all of the "security labeling" that went on to try and clean up or make people more comfortable with internet shopping years ago. You could even pay for "audits" to get the label from some of the big 5 accounting firms. Truste is one of them that still remains. Who knows about this one?
I suspect that there is some fierce infighting among these companies because, with this new sector, new brands could be made to rival the established "high carb" companies like Kraft. Some companies are staking out a "carb is a carb" territory very directly like Betafoods.
This labeling problem also seems to have been going on for some time, according to the website Low Carb Luxury.
It is the dawn of a new sector! Let the battle begin! It only gets better for the consumer!
On another note, I talked to the nutritionist at Trader Joe's to ask her about the Trader Joe's Eggplant Parmesan label. It lists the total carbs as 4 but 5 and 6 carbs for fiber and sugar. Of course, this is mathematically impossible. She confirmed that the net carb count was 11 and that the new label was currently being approved. I was the second or third caller on this item. (At that carb count, we should try it! If you do "net carbs" like I do.)