Ultra processed food

Poshpots

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I am constantly reading about the harm of ultra processed food and as single 80 year old man often wonder has I put my ready meal in my trolley "I wonder is this ultra processed"?

Like so many of these food issues why does the Government define what is meant by the term and require manufacturers to state if it is ultra processed on the Label in a standard way. Same thing with ingredients, sugars etc.
We are sensible enough to have standard road signs why are you not campaigning for standard food packaging not telling me about it and leaving me to judge what is ultra processed.
 
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KennyA

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I am constantly reading about the harm of ultra processed food and as single 80 year old man often wonder has I put my ready meal in my trolley "I wonder is this ultra processed"?

Like so many of these food issues why does the Government define what is meant by the term and require manufacturers to state if it is ultra processed on the Label in a standard way. Same thing with ingredients, sugars etc.
We are sensible enough to have standard road signs why are you not campaigning for standard food packaging not telling me about it and leaving me to judge what is ultra processed.
Hi and welcome to the forums. Personally, I would like government to have much less interference in food and diet - they have done more than enough damage already. The problem with trying to define "ultra-processed" is that as soon as you have a definition, the food industry will be looking for ways round it. They already use the word "healthy" - which is also undefined - to mean anything they choose to have it mean.

I see that various organisations are already producing lists of things they define as "ultra-processed" which suit their own prejudices - the British Heart Foundation thinks ham is ultra-processed, for example, despite quoting the Nova classification system (below) which to me indicates that ham (at least, the ham I buy) is "processed" rather than ultra-processed". You might want to work out directly from NOVA what you find acceptable rather than have a third party tell you their views. My reading of it would be that your ready meals would be classed as "ultra-processed" by the NOVA guidelines.

The term ‘ultra-processed foods’ comes from the NOVA food classification system, which was developed by researchers at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

The system places food into four categories based on how much they have been processed during their production:


  1. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods: This includes produce such as fruit, vegetables, milk, fish, pulses, eggs, nuts and seeds that have no added ingredients and have been little altered from their natural state.
  2. Processed ingredients: This includes foods that are added to other foods rather than eaten by themselves, such as salt, sugar and oils.
  3. Processed foods: These are foods that are made by combining foods from groups 1 and 2, which are altered in a way that home cooks could do themselves. They include foods such as jam, pickles, tinned fruit and vegetables, homemade breads and cheeses.
  4. Ultra-processed foods: Ultra-processed foods typically have five or more ingredients. They tend to include many additives and ingredients that are not typically used in home cooking, such as preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners, and artificial colours and flavours. These foods generally have a long shelf life.
 

jjraak

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There was a movie "rollerball" back in the day, where corporations had replaced governments & ran everything.

I thought that was a bit far fetched at the time

Then I got involved on here and discovered just 10 food giants run food the world over ...."10”.

They hold tremendous power, so can almost pay lip service to what ever governments try to order.

I'd say @KennyA is spot on.

Whatever is a planned will be circumvented.

Nice idea, though.
 

JoKalsbeek

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I am constantly reading about the harm of ultra processed food and as single 80 year old man often wonder has I put my ready meal in my trolley "I wonder is this ultra processed"?

Like so many of these food issues why does the Government define what is meant by the term and require manufacturers to state if it is ultra processed on the Label in a standard way. Same thing with ingredients, sugars etc.
We are sensible enough to have standard road signs why are you not campaigning for standard food packaging not telling me about it and leaving me to judge what is ultra processed.
Have you ever seen Soylent Green? The spoiler, for anyone who hasn't seen it, is: "Soylent Green is people!" And folks don't really care, nor want to know that their supposedly soy-based edible bricks, are made of their fellow humans. If something is so very processed that there's no identifying what's in it... That's pretty much ultra-processed. And if it's more chemical than organic matter, and would survive an apocalypse like a Twinky would for 20+ years, then it's safe to say, you probably should give it a miss, but that's your choice.

Entirely up to you though, but for me, I just figure it like this: if it's relatively simply put together, and something I could make myself if I had one iota of baking/cooking talent, then it's probably okay. Try and keep it as simple as possible, because if you have to overthink every single grocery shopping moment, you're going to crash and burn. Do your veg look like veg, and your meat like meat? Or close enough for government work? Go with that. ;)

Good luck!
Jo
 

In Response

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Ultra-processed foods: Ultra-processed foods typically have five or more ingredients. They tend to include many additives and ingredients that are not typically used in home cooking, such as preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners, and artificial colours and flavours. These foods generally have a long shelf life.
I struggle with this definition. Or rather, I am happy with the bit about "ingredients that are not typically used in home cooking" but not the five or more ingredients. Most things I make (from scratch) have more than 5 ingredients even when I start with unprocessed ingredients. For example, a relatively simple omelette typically contains eggs, tomatoes, fresh oregano (from the garden), cheese (which is processed) and cooked in olive oil. That's five ingredients before I add salt and pepper but is it ultra-processed?

It avoids the bit about designing UPF for addiction to encourage us to eat more through the inclusion of salt and sugar.
As I have Type 1 with no insulin resistance, I do not demonise carbs. Therefore, I bake my own bread. Home baked sourdough contains flour, water, a small amount of salt (less than 1% of the loaf) and sourdough starter made with flour and water. Comparing this with the ingredients for shop bought bread makes my eyes water. I have no need for sugar, oil, ascorbic acid or calcium propionate in my bread, for example.
 
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KennyA

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I struggle with this definition. Or rather, I am happy with the bit about "ingredients that are not typically used in home cooking" but not the five or more ingredients. Most things I make (from scratch) have more than 5 ingredients even when I start with unprocessed ingredients. For example, a relatively simple omelette typically contains eggs, tomatoes, fresh oregano (from the garden), cheese (which is processed) and cooked in olive oil. That's five ingredients before I add salt and pepper but is it ultra-processed?

It avoids the bit about designing UPF for addiction to encourage us to eat more through the inclusion of salt and sugar.
As I have Type 1 with no insulin resistance, I do not demonise carbs. Therefore, I bake my own bread. Home baked sourdough contains flour, water, a small amount of salt (less than 1% of the loaf) and sourdough starter made with flour and water. Comparing this with the ingredients for shop bought bread makes my eyes water. I have no need for sugar, oil, ascorbic acid or calcium propionate in my bread, for example.
I agree with you. The "home cooking" bit seems sensible.

It's a weasel word approach - "UPFs will typically have five or more ingredients". They don't say (although it's sort of implied) that foods with five or more ingredients are UPFs. Dogs have four legs, this table has four legs, therefore this table is a dog.

Your omelette is a great example - and I'd usually be adding salami and garlic as well. A basic curry sauce will have eg onion, tomato, chilli, coriander, cumin, garlic, salt....

And then you get on to "...tend to include many additives and ingredients that are not typically used in home cooking..." so they might, or might not, include additives, and maybe people use them at home, or maybe they don't.

It underlines the difficulties of attempting to put foods in fixed categories as requested by the OP.
 

mouseee

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The book Ultra Processed People by Chris Van Tulleken is a really good read. I'm part way though it. It doesn't preach but explains about ultraprocessed food and how they were developed.
 

MrsA2

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I am constantly reading about the harm of ultra processed food and as single 80 year old man often wonder has I put my ready meal in my trolley "I wonder is this ultra processed"?
I use a simple rule of thumb - if there's anything on the ingredients list that isn't a food ingredient I would use at home, then it counts as too processed or manufactured for me.
Classic example can be ice cream. I've found a supermarket product that lists cream, sugar, eggs and coffee as the only ingredients, so I do eat small portions of this. (Can't find it online to link)
I don't buy or eat this one with 12 ingredients
 

jpscloud

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I'm getting worried about the actual listing of food ingredients too. I am relying on "pork puffs" (pork rinds) to keep me off potato crisps etc. and searched up until I found some that just lists pork rind, salt and yeast extract. Processing information says "hot flashed for a light and crunchy texture" but I'm not sure what hot flashed actually means. I'm switching to one that says fried in pork fat, hopefully that's the truth! I noticed some other foods' ingredients lists are not showing rapeseed oil but suspect it is in there. I will keep investigating!
 

KennyA

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I'm getting worried about the actual listing of food ingredients too. I am relying on "pork puffs" (pork rinds) to keep me off potato crisps etc. and searched up until I found some that just lists pork rind, salt and yeast extract. Processing information says "hot flashed for a light and crunchy texture" but I'm not sure what hot flashed actually means. I'm switching to one that says fried in pork fat, hopefully that's the truth! I noticed some other foods' ingredients lists are not showing rapeseed oil but suspect it is in there. I will keep investigating!
I think "flashed" might mean "fried". They might think that people won't want fried.......!!!

I like Black Country pork scratchings. A kilo for £16.

 
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lovinglife

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As a chef hot flashed used to mean reheated at a high temperature very quickly usually under the salamander grill, used to be used a lot years ago now they have rationale ovens does the job much better. My take on it is they are cooked and cooled then reheated very quick at a very high temp probably like @KennyA says fried twice so you are probably fine with them.

Just a thought seeing that they are puffs and not pork rinds as such it could be that they go through a process of very very hot air for the flash which would make them crispier than re fried, think this is fine also
 

jpscloud

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I think "flashed" might mean "fried". They might think that people won't want fried.......!!!

I like Black Country pork scratchings. A kilo for £16.

That's what I was thinking, and if they're not telling me what they were fried in I'm switching to the one that does!

I love scratchings but my teeth don't! Mostly ok but I do worry about breaking a tooth now I'm older. I get the pork puffs which are generally very easy on the teeth with the flavour and satiating benefits of scratchings.
 

jpscloud

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As a chef hot flashed used to mean reheated at a high temperature very quickly usually under the salamander grill, used to be used a lot years ago now they have rationale ovens does the job much better. My take on it is they are cooked and cooled then reheated very quick at a very high temp probably like @KennyA says fried twice so you are probably fine with them.

Just a thought seeing that they are puffs and not pork rinds as such it could be that they go through a process of very very hot air for the flash which would make them crispier than re fried, think this is fine also
That's interesting, yes I googled and it does seem that the puffs are cooked at much higher temp to make them puff up. As I replied to @KennyA though if they're not telling me what they fry in I don't want to buy them - the "awfully posh" ones say fried in pork fat with no additives so I'm switching to those.
 
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KennyA

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That's what I was thinking, and if they're not telling me what they were fried in I'm switching to the one that does!

I love scratchings but my teeth don't! Mostly ok but I do worry about breaking a tooth now I'm older. I get the pork puffs which are generally very easy on the teeth with the flavour and satiating benefits of scratchings.
I understand that Black Country use the natural fat, there being plenty available. The bigger tougher bits of scratching I put in a freezer bag and hit with a rolling pin. Usually works.
 

MrsA2

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I'm getting worried about the actual listing of food ingredients too. I am relying on "pork puffs" (pork rinds) to keep me off potato crisps etc. and searched up until I found some that just lists pork rind, salt and yeast extract. Processing information says "hot flashed for a light and crunchy texture" but I'm not sure what hot flashed actually means. I'm switching to one that says fried in pork fat, hopefully that's the truth! I noticed some other foods' ingredients lists are not showing rapeseed oil but suspect it is in there. I will keep investigating!
Quite easy to do you own, especially in a air fryer. Just pork skin, or chicken skins cooked until very crispy
 
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lovinglife

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Quite easy to do you own, especially in an air fryer. Just pork skin, or chicken skins cooked until very crispy
Be careful with the chicken skins - once they start to crisp they become very light and begin to fly around the air fryer, I set fire to mine as it was sucked up into the fan had to buy a new air fryer. I now just make them in the ordinary oven but pork scratchings I still do in the air fryer as one large piece then cut up afterwards
 
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MrsA2

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Be careful with the chicken skins - once they start to crisp they become very light and begin to fly around the air fryer, I set fire to mine as it was sucked up into the fan had to buy a new air fryer. I now just make them in the ordinary oven but pork scratchings I still do in the air fryer as one large piece then cut up afterwards
Ooh! I'll watch out for that. The only thing I've had fly around my airfryer was cheese off toast, when I'd sliced the cheese too thinly. It not only flew up but melted down too. Burnt mess in every direction!
 
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Resurgam

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I'm getting worried about the actual listing of food ingredients too. I am relying on "pork puffs" (pork rinds) to keep me off potato crisps etc. and searched up until I found some that just lists pork rind, salt and yeast extract. Processing information says "hot flashed for a light and crunchy texture" but I'm not sure what hot flashed actually means. I'm switching to one that says fried in pork fat, hopefully that's the truth! I noticed some other foods' ingredients lists are not showing rapeseed oil but suspect it is in there. I will keep investigating!
I suspect it means something like a fanned out flame thrower for the food to fall through so fast it doesn't burn but so hot it is shocked and partly exploded.
Having been in the food industry I think that this ultra processed description is totally irrelevant as a guide to its nutrition. Something like ready brek is vitamin enriched oats but it is also very highly processed, as in reduced to a slurry and then cooked on a rotating heated roller, scraped off and broken up before packaging, but it is basically an oat pancake made very thin and small for easy preparation in the kitchen.
 
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