Are Pringles Potato Chips?

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Photo by Siomuzzz/Flickr CC

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.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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