NOVA Classification May Miss the Mark

It turns out that processed foods might not be so bad after all.  Instead, we now need to watch out for hyper-processed foods and ultra-processed foods.  The NOVA classification system was developed by the center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition located in Brazil and groups foods to the extent and purpose of the processing they undergo. The classification system allows for unprocessed foods / minimally processed foods like oats, processed ingredients such as oils and fats, processed foods such as canned vegetables and bacon, and ultra-processed foods including cookies, ice cream, and frozen pizza.

The NOVA approach condemns nearly 60% of the United States food supply as unhealthy prompting many to ask if this is correct or appropriate. It also challenges at least 40% of the food supply in Europe as being unhealthy.  In fact, some foods are deemed unhealthy just because they have an unacceptable food additive in them.  This is true in the case of most plant-based meats which are generally thought to be a healthy substitute for animal meat. Of course, these foods were coded after the creation of NOVA.  Currently, the NOVA system is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) but may warrant caution. Many consumers and regulators believe it is time to develop a system that takes more factors into consideration including our current food supply.

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Posted on 25 March 2022