Regulatory Fight Over Ultraprocessed Foods Starting in the US

There’s controversy over how good a proxy the degree of food processing is for the nutritional value of food. Nevertheless, there is also substantial evidence that the category of ultraprocessed, which includes some arguably not-bad offerings like whole grain bread,1 contribute in a big way to bad health outcomes. The US, with its large food companies being very much in ultraprocessed food business, are mounting an effort to challenge and delay the labeling of ultraprocessed items, even though similar requirements are being implemented in other countries.

Before we turn to a Wall Street Journal update, some stage-setting about food processing. From Harvard’s School of Public Health:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a processed food as one that has undergone any changes to its natural state—that is, any raw agricultural commodity subjected to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state….

A popular system to classify processed foods was introduced in 2009, called the NOVA classification. It lists four categories considering the degree to which a food is processed and the purpose of these modifications:

Unprocessed or minimally processed foods
Unprocessed foods include the natural edible food parts of plants and animals. Minimally processed foods have been slightly altered so they can be more easily stored, prepared, and eaten; this processing level does not substantially change the nutritional content of the food. Examples include cleaning and removing inedible or unwanted parts, grinding, refrigeration, pasteurization, fermentation, freezing, and vacuum-packaging. This allows the food to be preserved for more time and remain safe to eat. Many fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, meats, plain yogurt with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, fresh and dried pasta, tea, coffee, and milk fall into this category.

Processed culinary ingredients
This category includes food ingredients used in kitchens to prepare and season foods that are derived from minimally processed foods by pressing, refining, grinding, or milling. They are typically not eaten on their own but are used to prepare other foods. Examples include oils from plants, seeds, and nuts; vinegar made by acetic fermentation of wine; honey extracted from combs; and syrup from maple trees without added flavors or stabilizers.

Processed foods
In this category, the processing increases the durability of foods or modifies or enhances their flavor and texture. Processed foods derive from either of the two previous groups but have added salt, sugar, and/or fat. Some canned fruits and vegetables, some cheeses, freshly made bread, and canned fish are examples. These foods usually are made from at least 2-3 ingredients and can be readily eaten without further preparation.

Ultra-processed foods
Also commonly referred to as “highly processed foods,” these are foods from the prior group that go beyond the incorporation of salt, sugar, and fat to include artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, thickeners, emulsifiers, and artificial sweeteners that promote shelf stability, preserve and enhance texture, and increase palatability. Several processing steps using multiple ingredients are involved in an ultra-processed food. They are often mass-produced with low-cost ingredients making them cheap and highly profitable. It is speculated that these foods are designed to specifically increase cravings so that people will overeat them and purchase more. Ultra-processed foods are typically ready-to-eat with minimal additional preparation. Not all but some of these foods tend to be low in fiber and nutrients. Examples are sugary drinks, cookies, some crackers, chips, and breakfast cereals, some frozen dinners, and luncheon meats.

Tofu, which some would consider to bear only a marginal resemblance to food, is considered minimally processed. But instant miso soup is wltraprocessed. So are things you might not consider unhealthy, like store bought salad dressings, even the sort sold in health food stores by virtue of not having sugars and using “good” oils like avocado oil. Anything with stabiilzers or emulsifiers in it is generally considered to be ultraprocessed….although an article at PubMed argues chocolate should get a pass.

There is an argument to be made (and the Big Food manufacturers are all over this one), that not all ultraprocessed foods are junky and cite baby formula as an example of how the ultraprocessed label would stigmatize the consumption of items that can be important to a healthy diet. The fact that the ultraprocessed category is so broad means industry incumbents are arguing for more granular classification before moving to any labeling scheme.

Scientist counter by saying the perfect is the enemy of the good, and the evidence is so compelling regarding the public health cost of advanced economy overconsumption of these often only sort of food items that officials show move ahead now and tidy up on the fly. For instance, from a December 2023 article in Advances in Nutrition:

The United States is a leading consumer of ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) globally, with a staggering 55% of adults’ energy intake coming from these products. In addition to enhanced processing techniques, Nova-defined UPFs also contain cosmetic additives to enhance palatability, profitability, and shelf-life, at no nutritional value. Recent meta-analyses documented significant adverse associations of UPFs with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Building on this growing body of literature, Vitale et al. conducted an comprehensive systematic review, highlighting the following 3 salient conclusions: 1) heterogeneity in risk estimates is not as profound as some UPF industry and other stakeholders argue; 2) UPF classification should evolve to reflect both food processing and nutritional value; and 3) although the quality of UPF research can (and should) be improved on, limitations of the current evidence base are not insurmountable, nor do they serve as sole justification to delay public health interrogation around UPFs.

For the inquisitive, see a typical 2019 study, Consumption of ultra-processed foods decreases the quality of the overall diet of middle-aged Japanese adults, published at Cambridge University Press.

Now to the politics. The Wall Street Journal discusses how ultraprocessed food makers are fighting efforts to force more disclosure or other regulation. On the one hand, the extremely powerful sugar lobby has successfully held long-standing campaigns against having US diet recommendations recommend strongly against much sugar consumption. On the other, these initiatives are gaining steam in other countries. And mere press coverage of this struggle is raising awareness at least among health-conscious consumers. From the Journal:

Food-industry groups and makers of goods from ice cream to pasta sauce are stepping up lobbying, pushing back as the U.S. government probes the health effects of heavily processed food. It is a new front in a struggle that could reshape America’s approach to nutrition and threaten profits for companies behind foods throughout much of the supermarket….

Greater attention to processing marks a major new challenge for food makers. U.S. dietary advice for decades has focused largely on individual nutrients such as sugar, salt or saturated fat. By contrast, concerns over processing strike at the heart of how most packaged food is produced.

“It is going to rock the world for the food industry,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University. “That’s never been a standard to which they’ve been held before.”

Behind the scenes, food-industry proponents have also begun pressing for more oversight of government-funded research on ultra-processed foods, according to industry lobbyists. Less processing, they say, could lead to more food waste, higher prices and problems for consumers who might struggle to store more fresh foods….

Governments including Canada, Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Israel have told consumers to limit consumption of highly processed foods. Colombia’s government last year began taxing purchases of ultra-processed foods, and some food manufacturers in France have begun labeling their products to indicate their degree of processing.

Many food-industry groups, companies and consultants argue that a widely used Brazilian classification system is overly simplistic and unhelpful to consumers, lumping together packaged bread and infant formula in the same ultra-processed category as cookies and chicken nuggets.

No matter what Big Food would like, my sense is this horse has left the barn and is well on its way to being in the next county. There has increasing neuroticism among those with the time and money to be health-conscious for decades. Although I can’t prove it, it seems to reflect both understandable distrust of an increasingly polluted environment (microplastics, forever chemicals, and now measurable levels of drugs in some cities’ tap water) and alienation from nature, as in increasing and often warranted concern about food that comes in packages. Among the rich, food fetishism has been fashionable for many years, with manifestations including beef farmers that not only allow their customers to pick which grass-eating steer is theirs as it is being prepared for slaughter, but also to pick the mix of grass it eats, to it being common for dinner party guests to dictate to hosts their often considerable eating restrictions. That sort of “food mistrustful” stance has been moving down market. The campaign against ultraprocessed food could be catching the right moment as more and more mass market customers are willing to limit their diets consistent with a health prescription of sorts.

To put it another way: most ultraprocessed foods are a bad idea from a health and weight loss perspective. There is a big and growing industry that builds on related fads, like anti-aging regimes, sports performance enhancement, or using diet to treat various ailments. Harping on the dangers of ultrarocessed foods is a no-brainer idea for all of these health improvement schemes to better scare their charges into not eating Cheetos and fast foods.2

1 Despite nutritionists depicting whole grain bread as a “good” choice, my father, who baked his own bread (and used many recipes), reported that they were still composed very heavily of white flour. If that was true of his home-made bread, you can be sure that goes double for store-bought bread.

2 Forgive me a mini-rant. The NIH should be paying me for all the diet and dietary supplement experiments I have run on myself over the decades. Being a nerd, I also know the underlying studies better than most laypeople and many (kill me now) nutritionists and “health coaches” do. Earlier today, in part to curry favor with a friend but also out of curiosity, I went to a presentation by a local dermatologist. All derms who are at all business-minded provide cosmetic treatments, such as Botox and the better ones are on the lookout for new potions and treatments. Instead, this derm is in the anti-aging business, and was making diet recommendations like never eat fruit (she claimed it causes inflammation) and repeatedly said eating fats causes high cholesterol (a double loser, since as KLG has said, cholesterol is not a very good predictor of heart disease risk, and your body makes cholesterol from carbs, not fat). I could go on but I was trapped, listening to anti-aging fad-dom, worse from someone who was not an internal medicine specialist, endocrinologist, or even a GP, yet alarmingly also said she trains other doctors about anti-aging.

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  1. Paris

    I’d like to see the US follow the UK in this aspect (and only in this aspect, because the UK is the nanny state par excellence) and mandate salt and sugar decrease in the food industry. The UK did mandate salt decrease some years ago, stealthily, with no communication to the general populace, and it did have good effects on blood pressure.

    1. Revenant

      The UK rules are terrible! Do not copy them!

      Salt, I don’t mind about (provided its anti-spoiling level us not affected) but the sugar rules have resulted in the sane number of soft drinks on sale but filled with artificial sweeteners. If I am going to kill myself, it will be with sugar, thank you!

      Previously enjoyable drinks like San Pellegrino aranciata or Fanta now taste if metal. Worse, many fruit cordials now contain sweetener. Buying cordial for the children is aspartame roulette. Pity the phenylalanine sensitive, whose choice us severely reduced…. All of these now advertised as “naturally sweetened” or some other euphemism, to disclose the sweetener. My childhood favourite Ribena (blackcurrant cordial, a consumer icon, every British child had a hot Rubeba when they had a sore throat) is undrinkable now.

      Thank god for Coca Cola, which holds the line (and uses real sugar in Europe).

      The irony is that premium products for wealthy still contain sugar because they are not sold on price but the poor get to eat sweetener,which is increasing under the spotlight for gut health, depression and metabolic syndrome, possibly through microbiome effects.

      1. Nordberg

        You have to get the Mexican variety of Coca Cola here in the states if you want can sugar vs corn sugars.

      2. JohnnyGL

        I would go to war to kill off artificial sweeteners 1000x before bothering with the fight over corn syrup vs sugar.

        My sister got both hodgkins, and non-hodgkins, lymphoma at 26 years old and died at age 40. Dana Farber and Brigham and Women’s hospital staff all shrugged at possible causes (I suppose it’s not their job to have those answers)

        She used to drink lots of iced coffeee with TONS of ‘equal’. That’s my only suspect in this case!!!

  2. Lefty Godot

    Chris van Tulleken in his Ultra-Processed People book identifies infant formula as a definite evil, responsible for hundreds of thousands of infant deaths in poor nations that would have been avoided with breast feeding. Sometimes a necessary evil, but relentlessly over-promoted using every trick in the advertising and marketing playbook.

    A key element of the ultra-processed category in his view is intent. In other words, these food-like substances are designed to be over-consumed in an addictive fashion, that’s not just a side-effect of them having longer shelf-life and more convenience on the packaging and preparation ends.

    1. Revenant

      Yes! Seconded! Banning baby food (not infant formula, which is a different evil) is more important than banning Cheetos. Wean your baby on what you eat, mashed up (and not that mashed, so they get early access to textures).

      And packaged bread is as bad, for adults. Banning these two items would do more good than banning crisps. What an hilarious hill for the food industry to choose to die on as exemplars of righteousness! :-)

    2. KLG

      IIRC the Nestle boycott in the late-1970s was prompted by this. Nestle saleswomen dressed as nurses (white dress, white stockings, white cap) would convince women that baby formula was better than breast milk. Problem was that the powder then had to be mixed with water that was not safe, with predictable results for the health of babies.

      I did remember correctly. My lab mates just shook their heads at the Boycott Nestle bumper sticker on the window at my little desk. I haven’t knowingly bought a Nestle product since. Is the Nestle Crunch still good? I wouldn’t know.

    3. jrkrideau

      Sometimes a necessary evil, but relentlessly over-promoted using every trick in the advertising and marketing playbook.” for their highly dishonest–and evil–marketing techniques in developing countries.

  3. GF

    As Lefty above, I recently completed “Ultra-Processed People” – very informative. Not to be argumentative, but some whole grain breads are made with whole wheat flour and no white flour. In our neck of the woods, Dave’s has several options that meet this criteria. The cost is more that typical white bread. One gets what one pays for.

    1. Ellery O'Farrell

      Also Foods for Life‘s Ezekiel and Genesis, which are sprouted-grain breads that, as I understand it, aren’t even ground into flour; they use a special process to get them to cling together and rise. Whatever they do, white flour isn’t involved. It’s typically sold in the frozen-food section because it has a short shelf life.

      I think Dave’s has some sprouted-grain varieties as well. Incidentally, practice second-chance employment (hiring people with arrest or conviction records).

      1. sleepingdogmatist

        This is definitely tangential, but as a regular consumer of the Ezekiel 4:9 bread, I recently took a look at the surrounding scriptural context for the recipe. Give the first 17 verses or so of Ezekiel 4 a read if you want to give yourself a chuckle; it’s not terribly flattering for a food of choice!

  4. Mo

    How could dried pasta be in the minimally processed category while whole grain bread is ultra processed? Makes no sense

    1. Revenant

      Unless bread is made the old-fashioned way, with flour and yeast and salt and water and lots of time, it (or the flour it is made from) will contain all kinds of horrors (emulsifiers, stabilisers, humectants, fortifying agents and in America I believe even sugar!).

      1. JonnyJames

        True. My wife makes a “no-knead” home-made bread, that is far better (and cheaper) than the processed, store-bought bread. It does take a bit of time for the dough to rise, but not much labor is involved. A similar, organic loaf from an artisanal bakery costs 8-12 $ a loaf (in N. California)

      2. notabanker

        Funny, as soon as I saw this I thought, I have a loaf of typical grocery store white bread that was in our freezer for weeks and we took it out to thaw before the new year, it has been sitting on our counter and no one has opened it, yet it is still as soft and fresh as the day it was bought and not a spec of mold on it. This stuff just cannot be good for you.

        1. JBird4049

          Since I started to make my own bread, I realized that what is claimed to be bread in the store ain’t so.

          Also, since I have been avoiding processed foods from the store, I have been losing weight. I do not eat much better, but somehow homemade garbage is much better than store bought. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that ultraprocessed foods are designed to keep one hungry and sick.

          1. Antagonist Muscles

            although an article at PubMed argues chocolate should get a pass.

            Similarly, HFCS and soy lecithin are often found in inexpensive chocolate, and these ingredients should be avoided for good health. Fancier chocolate uses only sugar as a sweetener, but as JBird4049 notes, you should not eat sugar either. I don’t dispute chocolate may actually have health benefits. Nonetheless, the important thing is the context in which the chocolate is eaten. In typical contexts, chocolate has a ton of sweeteners and soy lecithin, and the eater might be indulging or binging. Surely, you know some compulsive chocolate lovers, right?

            Are Ditchfield et al. from the linked article on PubMed trustworthy sources? Their affiliations are from the Department of Food Engineering at University of São Paulo in Brazil. They note in the same paper that Brazil is one of the seven major cocoa bean producing countries. Interesting coincidence, eh? Also, Department of Food Engineering sure sounds commercial and biased.

            From Ditchfield et al:

            Lecithin is a natural substance extracted from soybean and used in chocolate since the 1930s in amounts up to 0.5%

            Just because soy lecithin is natural doesn’t mean you should be eating it. All too often soy lecithin is found in ultra-processed food. Its purpose is usually to enrich a food with fat. Adding a ton of butter or bacon grease to food might taste great, but that’s expensive and the shelf life will not be long. Hence, soy lecithin is often used. I haven’t done the research on whether or not soy lecithin is healthy, and you need not concern yourself over the same question. If you eat mostly vegetables and fruit and sometimes grains and meat, you won’t encounter soy lecithin.

  5. begob

    I listened to Lustig recently on Huberman’s YouTube channel – he was promoting a website called Perfact, where you can check on sugary and ultra processed foods in the USA. Can’t recall the domain.

      1. bloodnok

        says “The perfact “Criteria Store” makes picking criteria from experts, government and non-government organizations, publications, or any individual of trust as convenient as picking apps on the Apple AppStore. Like on the AppStore, all criteria, bundled into “filters”, are vetted for quality, have descriptions, and ratings.”

        anything that defines itself by the standards of the apple appstore is a byline for dubious. pass.

        1. John

          I have been watching Dr. Robert Lustig’s videos recently and will probably get his book, Metabolical. He seems to be wanting to address two audiences. For lay people he simplifies the message to stop processed foods, especially sugar and most importantly fructose. For the medical community he explains this conclusion in deep biochemistry and endocrinology. So I certainly only get part of his message.
          I don’t have a problem with his use of tech to spread his message to the public.
          He’s retired and seems to be liberated from the PMC corporate censorship controls . Somewhat like Jeffrey Sachs in geopolitics.
          He also quite freely admits what he doesn’t know about metabolic processes.
          Bottom line…he’s going up against Big Ag and Big Food hard and that’s a good thing.

  6. Rubicon

    Go live in Italy, or France. It’s the best food in the Western World. Why? Because most food comes from their local farmers, and wineries. Other staple foods needed for the winter season come from Germany and/or Spain.

    The EU seems to still have strict food standards in W. Europe. All the junk put into US food is simply not allowed in W. Europe. Additives and “stabilizers” are not allowed. Oil is genuinely made, unlike in the US whose manufacturers are always labeling their oil comes from Italy, Spain, or France. In fact, for common US citizens, that is a lie.
    Result, W. Europeans look much healthier than older Americans. Some of that is also attributed to Europeans who walk in large cities.

    1. JonnyJames

      Spain and Portugal have some really good foods as well, but I agree that France and Italy are my faves. Also, Belgium has excellent food, bread, beer, chocolate etc. Sadly however, going to live there is not a possibility for most.

    2. LilD

      Greece, especially Crete and other islands
      Mostly not very processed vegetables and fruits and grains, not much meat.

  7. IMOR

    This isn’t a battle the government is equipped to fight or to win. Rulemaking in this sphere is a war of choice, unpopular, and an admission they’re too lazy and/or unskilled to make the case and change behavior by persuasion, propaganda, example.
    Painted into a corner by the self-imposed ‘necessity’ to write blanket rules, to never ‘pick winners and losers,’ they’ll commit an intrusive nationwide fail rather than tell a half dozen food conglomerates, “Here’s fifteen products by name that you are discontinuing, and per-gram ceilings on these three or fur ingredients, and we’ll see how it goes from here.”

  8. skeptonomist

    What makes people fat? Is it the calories in the food or is it all the additives and “processing”? Foods are already labeled for calories, which doesn’t seem to prevent people from eating the high-calorie stuff, whether it is ultra processed or not. Why would ultra-processed labels be a deterrent if high-calorie labels are not? If it tastes good, apparently people will eat too much of it.

    1. Lefty Godot

      It’s calories contained in inexpensive foodlike substances that have an immediately delicious first taste, require no preparation and little chewing, leave you unsatisfied because they are nutritionally lacking and mess with both your blood sugar regulation and the effectiveness of your microbiome, and therefore lead to your consuming even more of them before any feeling of fullness sets in. Or, that’s the theory.

      1. JBird4049

        The preservatives, stabilizers, abundant corn syrup, artificial colors, and who knows what messes up the entire body. For instance, HFC or high fructose corn syrup, which is added in all sorts of foods like bread and soup, increases the amount of calories, and for whatever reason, is more destructive to your body than mere white sugar. One should not eat sugar, but one really shouldn’t have HFC in their diet.

        I can eat white homemade bread and be far less hungry than with the same amount of store bought brown bread.

  9. Antagonist Muscles

    In a perverse sense, gradually becoming disabled and staying home all day is the best thing that ever happened to me. When I was stuck in the office filing TPS report all day, I lacked the time to study about food and unlearn all the garbage I learned in school. More accurately, I did have plenty of downtime while doing worthless stuff in the corporate world, but I was bound to be sedentary looking at a computer. In contrast at home, when I read about cooking or the health consequences of the food I eat, I can immediately act upon that and learn something valuable.

    Nevertheless, the most valuable advice regarding what kind of food to eat is to simply stop eating processed food. Likewise, eat lots of fresh vegetables. Just about every food writer we regard with a high opinion—Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Marion Nestle, Alice Waters, our esteemed hostess—agrees there is almost no disadvantage to eating fresh vegetables. No disadvantage in terms of health. Of course, one has to spend time to cook and learn how to turn “unprocessed or minimally processed foods” into a meal. Please be deeply skeptical if your dietary guru is discouraging you from eating fresh vegetables. I have heard and read plenty of poor advice from Paleo food adherents to “be like a caveman and eat meat. Lots of meat.” I got news for you. Beef, pork, and chicken meat—even if raw—are essentially processed because of the garbage and drugs the industry feeds them. Then there’s the unsanitary conditions at feedlots. Paging Upton Sinclair.

    As for the political regulations regarding food, labeling foods with at least the four degrees of processing from the above linked Harvard’s School of Public Health is a step in the right direction. Yves and I are deeply cynical about monetary influences corroding Big Food and Ag its regulators. Witness the actual danger of dietary sugar or artificial sweeteners compared to the minimal amount of criticism sugar actually receives.

    1. Lefty Godot

      Chris van Tulleken advocates for an easy to understand (i.e., very visual) labeling system to differentiate ultra-processed foods and alert shoppers to what they’re about to buy. He’s in the UK, formerly part of the alleged EU nanny state although not any more, so things like that may be more doable on the other side of the pond. I would worry less about white flour being an ingredient as long as it’s not included among a dozen or more other cryptically named ingredients that are unidentifiable if you’re not a food scientist.

      And, yes, even before you get to the processing part of food or ersatz food, there is the whole agricultural system behind everything, with factory farming (with unsanitary conditions, huge antibiotic overuse, unnatural feeds for the poor animals, etc.) and industrial crop farming (with insecticides, weed killers, genetically modified organisms, etc.). Going with local and organically farmed food seems prudent, but that again is difficult from a price and availability standpoint for poorer people.

      The one confounder for van Tulleken’s arguments to me is that the proliferation of plastic in everything has been going on at much the same time as the ultra-processing of food. Starting maybe a hundred years ago but really picking up steam in the early 1970s and accelerating from there in both cases. But how we reduce our exposure to phthalates, bisphenol, and other plastic byproducts without government action I don’t know. Like when cans are lined with plastic that you don’t even see, when microplastics are in the earth and the water where crops are being grown, when every other type of food comes in a plastic container…people are going to look back on this a century from now, if we survive that long, and ask how we let this happen.

      But of course the media tells us we just need to exercise more, have willpower, and fix our lifestyles. Individually. Collective action is a thoughtcrime.

  10. Ernie

    The issue should not be the amount of processing, but what is done to (or added to) the food during processing. I eat a commercial granola that is essentially rolled oats with a few nuts and a touch of honey added for sweetener before being lightly baked. Certainly that product has endured far more processing than a can of soft drink that is essentially water mixed with artificial sweetener. But which one is better for me? Just labeling wide ranges of products as “ultraprocessed” does nobody any favors. Instead looking at (and prominently labeling) which processed foods contain chemical ingredients (instead of food ingredients) might be a good start.

    For some good information on how the food industry takes products with little nutrition and uses artificial and “natural” flavor enhancers to make them taste irresistible, I recommend reading The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker.

    Also, I know it’s not for everybody, but I cut all sweets and most sugars out of my diet about 15 years ago with what I think have been noticeable positive effects on my health. I think the amount of sugar in the average American diet is certainly a major contributor to our national health problems.

  11. Oldtimer

    The main issue for the consumer I think is that big stores like walmart can sell food products without labels of origin. This is not allowed in the EU but ok in the US, hence I learned by accident that the garlic I was buying at walmart was coming from china, and tons of other food products I checked do not have a “made in…” label. I think its an absolute disgrace and the consumer must absolutely know where the food is coming from. Food from china is a national security threat imho.

    1. Paris

      Most of the garlic sold in the US come from China and I always knew that. If you buy that little packet with the 3 garlic heads inside it’s boldly written, Product from China. Nobody’s lying to you. Now if you buy garlic in bulk, or if you buy tomato in bulk, there’s nothing written, in any supermarket so I don’t understand why you’re blaming Walmart lol. Maybe the fancy Whole Paycheck has origin for produce in bulk. That just seems to me some prejudice against China. Do you have the same prejudice against avocados from MX?

  12. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Although there are two mentions in the comments, I’m astonished that there is not a single reference in the main body of the article about the devastation UPC food wreaks upon the gut biome.
    HFCS is probably the absolute worse, squeezing out your good buggies in favour of the “thrifty” buggies, which not only promote weight gain, but cause your body to crave sweets.
    Even a 2091 article in the National Library of Medicine, “The Dose Makes the Poison: Sugar and Obesity in the United States” states categorically, “The increase in total sugar consumption and, in particular, HFCS, roughly paralleled the increase in obesity in the United States, with some studies suggesting that it was causal.”
    So Americans are increasingly obese not because of lack of will power, but because they are insidiously being hooked on sweet, calorie-rich foods by Big Food..
    I’m not sure, but is HFCS still considered a “natural” flavouring because it comes from corn?

  13. WillD

    Those of us on the consumer side know full well that nearly all kinds of processing take away nutritional value in one way or another.

    This starts with the farming or fishing – the quality of the soil or water, the fertilisers & herbicides used, and then goes on to the processing plants where the food is treated and additives added. By the time it gets to my table, it has nearly always lost a large portion of its original nutritional content. You can see and taste the difference when compared to organic produce that hasn’t been mis-treated.

    So, this debate isn’t about nutritional value, it is about protecting the food industry and its profits at the expense of our health (another huge profit maker) – so they get to profit twice!

    Feed us crap and then milk (pun intended) us dry paying for lousy healthcare that rarely fixes anything. A very vicious circle.

  14. thousand points of green

    Starting in the late 1800s, the Western World already had an earlier iteration of very processed food ( the step just before ultra processed, I suppose).

    Dentist Weston Price travelled the world photographing the teeth, smiles and faces of non-Mainstream Western people who were still eating their traditional diet and individuals from those same groups who had adopted the Very Processed Western Diet of their day. He compared and contrasted the condition of facial and dental health between the traditional eaters and the very processed eathers. He wrote a book about that called Nutrition And Physical Degeneration.

    Here are a few images, mainly of the book itself, but a very few of the actual photographs.;_ylt=AwrNPy3Xtall2L4CcEZXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=weston+price+diet+and+physical+degeneration+image&fr=sfp

    Here is a bunch with rather more images of the photographs themselves.;_ylt=AwrhenIrtqll2iEDY.5XNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=weston+price+dental+photographs+image&fr=sfp

    He also gave some dietary advice based on all his findings and photographs.

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