Why are so many packages half filled with air?

Posted at 12:11 PM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-22 07:59:12-04

Did you ever open a box of cereal or bag of chips and wonder if they filled most of the darn thing with air?

That's what one Northern Kentucky man is wondering, after buying a bottle of baby powder that he first thought had been opened and already used.

Joseph Riley can't believe what he found in a bottle of talc body power at a nearby dollar store.

"When I got home," he said, "I happened to put it on  the window sill of my bathroom, and because of the sunlight coming through I could tell it wasn't even halfway full."

Riley bought the house-brand powder at Dollar Tree, where he says it looked like a great bargain for just a buck. Under the store's fluorescent lights, he could not tell how much powder the yellow plastic bottle contained.

But he says the small amount inside was crazy.

"I would have figured that at 10 ounces, it would probably be up toward the top" he said, "so that when you flip it over you can get some out.  But not down to here (the midway line)."

Lawsuits target candy, potato chip makers

Packages filled with lots of air have become a widespread complaint these days.

Some of the most  complaints concern potato chips.

Arecent class action lawsuitaccuses the east coast regional brand Wise of deliberately under filing its potato chip bags, with much less product than a similar bags of Ruffles.

Hershey is also the subject of a similar class action claiming under filled candy boxes.

In both cases, the companies deny any wrongdoing. They blame what's called "slack fill," leaving air so the product doesn't become broken, damaged, or stuck together.

Potato chip manufacturers say without air added to the bag, the chips will get crushed during handling.

But Joseph Riley says talc powder is not a bag of potato chips.  So he emailed Dollar Tree, which responded by explaining to him that the powder settles over time.

"I sent a message to the company and they said because of the settling, half of it is gone,"  he said.

But he, like many other consumers, wonders when too much air is just a lot of hot air.

We contacted Dollar General, where spokesman Randy Guiler explained  that the bottles do contain exactly 10 ounces of powder, which is what the label states. 

That means while it may be's perfectly legal, and at least in this case, it is not "cheating."

As always don't waste your money.


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