Costco Changes the Roasted Seaweed Snack

Back in September I wrote Snacking on Seaweed after buying a box of Roasted and Salted Seaweed from Costco. I tacked on an addendum to that post about a month later when I bought a second box of 24 packages. Clearly, I really enjoyed the seaweed snack.

This is what the new Kirkland Seaweed package looks like

This is what the new Kirkland Seaweed package looks like

The last time I was at Costco there was a new Kirkland Brand of Roasted Seasoned Seaweed for sale. It came in a very large bag which contained 10 smaller packages of the product.

The seaweed I am talking about comes in a small sheet about 2-1/2 X 3-12 inches.

So, what does this all mean to the potential seaweed snacker? A number of things. I have written time and again about reading ingredients labels and paying attention to serving size. This seaweed snack is a perfect example of that.

The first packages I bought contained around 10 of the sheets (5 grams) with the following nutritional breakdown: Only 30 calories, fat 2 grams, no cholesterol, Sodium 50 mg, carbohydrates 1 gram, fiber 1 gram and protein 1 gram.

The new packages are significantly different. They weigh 17 grams not 5 like the original. So a serving of these new ones weighs 3.4 grams. That is less than the originals. Here is the single serving nutritional breakdown: 20 calories, fat 1.5 grams, no cholesterol, Sodium 60 mg, one gram of carbohydrate, no fiber and one gram of protein.

I wanted to write about this new version of the snack to warn you about the potential pitfall of ‘same old; same old.’ The first time I opened a package of the new seaweed, I simply sat down and started snacking. Then I noticed that instead of the usual 10 or so sheets, there were closer to 30 sheets. Holy portion control! Something was wrong. I took a closer look at the package. I was surprised to read, “Serving size about 1/5 of a pack, 3.4 grams….” So, the serving size was smaller, but there were five servings in a pack instead of just one.

That meant that I couldn’t just crack open a pack and down it because I would be eating five servings. Instead of a 20 calorie snack, it would be 100 calories and instead of a friendly 60 mg of Sodium, it would total a not quite so friendly 300 mg. If I hadn’t read the serving size, I could easily have just eaten up the entire package.  They taste that good.

In sum, we have a similar snack sold by the same merchant, but with different packaging and a slow curve on portion size. I can no longer crack open a pack and eat the contents. I now need to weigh out, or count out, one fifth of the package to get a single serving.

Please don’t consider this to be Shakespearean much ado about nothing. I wanted you to see how important it is that you always have to read ‘the fine print.’ Despite the merchant being the same and the package similar, the package size had multiplied by five as did the calories and Sodium.

Let the snacker beware.

Tony

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15 Comments

Filed under calories, Costco, portion control, portion size, seaweed, snack foods, Snacking, sodium, Weight

15 responses to “Costco Changes the Roasted Seaweed Snack

  1. Vanessa

    Great info!! I miss the other seaweed snacks that Costco used to sell. It seems they do this a lot….get you hooked on a product then switch it up : (

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    • Thanks for your comment.

      I agree there is a big difference between the previous snacks and this one. I find the old ones were much more convenient because you just had to take a pack and eat them. Now you have to count them out or end up eating a lot more than you probably planned.

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  2. john secondo

    What I want to know is what kind of seaweed is it…its important to know so you don’t OD on iodine.

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  3. Thanks for your comment. It’s 60 mg of salt instead of 50 mg. That’s 20 percent more. I don’t think that is too much. With that kind of change, I think it is just a matter of taste. I agree with you that there is a slightly saltier taste. I happen to like that.

    The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older. This is well within the guidelines.

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  4. Jessica

    Is it bad to eat the whole container? I feel like I am overdosing on Iodine or consuming way to much sodium! I also read a lot of negative comments about seaweed and radiation. What is the truth to that?

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    • I don’t know that it’s bad to eat the whole container, just realize that you are consuming 100 calories instead of 20. That is still not too bad. The Sodium on the other hand is up to 300 mg. As I wrote in How many calories in McDonald’s new quarter-pounders. “The guidelines issued by the government say that adults should reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day. For those over age 51, or with a medical condition like diabetes or hypertension, salt intake should fall below 1500 mg. The American Heart Association puts the limit at 1500 mg per day for the entire population.” I don’t know about the iodine.

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  5. Marcela

    i want to ask if you think the fiber info on nutritional label is wrong……it says 0gms of fiiber…….how can seaweed not have fiber??

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    • Thanks for asking. Maybe the fact that it grows underwater keeps fiber from developing. I checked with two sources on fiber in seaweed and it doesn’t have very much, like a gram for a one ounce serving. Frankly, I don’t know much about seaweed except that I like the Costco snack and I like it in sushi. Hope this helps.

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  6. Thanks for your comment, Kim.

    Right! They are made from nori which is the same element used in wrapping California rolls. I loved the original packages. Unfortunately, with the new ones, I have been too lazy to count out the 10 or so sheets for a reasonable snack and I don’t eat them nearly as regularly as before. They are still a lovely healthy snack though.

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  7. That is a good way. As long as you are limiting your intake you have a good portion control system. It’s certainly faster than when I use my food scale.

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  8. FWIW, I use a pair of scissors to cut the sheets in half. They fit in my mouth easier and take twice as long to eat. I used to eat an entire package in one sitting. Now one lasts me three or four sittings. A hundred calories is nothin’ though. It was the salt I was more concerned about. And if I’m feeling especially healthy, I fold a paper towel over a bunch of sheets and it pulls out a LOT of oil.

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    • Rob -

      Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. Nice idea to cut the sheets in half to make them last longer. Portion control is definitely an art as well as a science. I don’t worry very much about the salt in these, it is still way under 100 mg. If you are concerned about salt, read the nutritional breakdown on all the foods you eat. There is lots of sodium in milk, bread, cheese, catsup, canned soups. That’s where you might be piling on the salt.

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  9. Fran

    I bought this snack as well without looking closely enough at the ingredients but my beef is that there is corn oil, which is very unhealthy. Why would Kirkland choose to include such a terrible oil with a very healthy product? to save money I’m guessing.

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