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7 out of 10 foods from the UK’s largest producers are ultra-processed

7 out of 10 foods from the UK’s largest producers are ultra-processed


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super-machined matter

7 out of 10 products in a representative sample of the production of 30 of the UK’s leading food companies are ultra-processed, which are delicious, high-calorie, industrially manufactured foods with low nutritional value. Means something made using a method.

so what? Eating ultra-processed foods such as instant noodles, sweetened breakfast cereals, biscuits, and chicken nuggets is associated with increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Investors are putting pressure on food companies to make their product ranges healthier, and some countries are urging consumers to avoid such foods. Their prevalence in the British diet is a key finding of the 2nd Annual Update. better food index for turtles.


70 – Percentage of ultra-processed product in samples collected for indexing

11 – Companies included in the index that sell these products for less per calorie than non-ultra processed products, such as Kraft Heinz, Mondelez and Birdseye

57 – Share of UK population calorie intake from ultra-processed foods

85.5 – Percentage of ultra-processed foods in the sample portfolio of the 10 highest-margin companies in the index

new lens. Highlighting the health risks of ultra-processed foods represents a different way of thinking about diet, not just the amount of fat, sugar and salt on the table, but how the food is made. Research suggests that ultra-processed foods promote overeating and contribute to rising levels of obesity.

Not five times a day. Ultra-processed foods are attractive to businesses because they are durable and made from low-cost raw materials, but they are more likely to be nutritionally unbalanced and are included in the index, according to government statistics. Ultra-processed foods are twice as likely to be considered unhealthy. Nutrient profiling model.

what to do? One regulatory option was a tax on ultra-processed foods similar to the soft drink tax introduced in 2018, encouraging manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of their products. Failing that, experts argue that the broad policy objectives should be:

  • Level regulatory playing field for food companies.
  • Clarity of definition and target.and
  • Incentives for producers and supermarkets to prioritize healthier options.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “Unless all companies have the same rules, they won’t risk market share to make these changes and the public will continue to suffer. Let’s say.

Mike Barry, former director of sustainable business at M&S, said climate-related progress has been made thanks to a clear target hierarchy. But “I don’t know what we’re aiming for when we talk about ultra-processed foods.”

definition. Some health foods that provide essential nutrients at an affordable price, such as fish fingers and canned beans, can also be classified as ultra-processed under the widely used Nova classification.

The Nova system examines how much food has changed and what ingredients it contains. However, the definition of “super-machined” can be confusing. An alternative system known as IARC-EPIC examines how natural such changes are. Drying potatoes is artificial, but drying grapes to make raisins is healthy.

A spokesperson for BirdsEye called Nova’s classification “intrinsically flawed,” arguing that part of the definition of ultra-processed foods is based on perception rather than scientific evidence.

Kraft-Heinz added that there is value in processing, such as extending the shelf life of food, enhancing taste and adding vitamins and minerals. A spokesperson said the company has a long history of improving the nutrition of its products, with a focus on reducing sugar, sodium, saturated fat and calories. Mondelez did not respond to a request for comment.

Even with the political will to intervene when prices are soaring, regulation of ultra-processed foods can be difficult. In Brazil, government guidelines call on citizens to avoid eating ultra-processed foods. French diners are told to limit their intake of such foods. Such finger movements may be the limits of effective state action.

Note: This analysis is based on a sample of 15-30 products collected by Tortoise to reflect each company’s product range. Product selection was weighted according to sales data when available.

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