“Ultra-processed" foods overreach

Major news media show photos of potato chips and pretzels as examples of “ultra-processed foods” …


If the definition of “ultra-processed” is for food that contains “ingredients you wouldn’t use at home,” then many of the foods shown as “ultra-processed” are not.


Potato chips are just potatoes, oil and salt (obviously, some versions contain more than that, but the traditional way of making them is very simple and still commonly available). The same goes for French fries. Additionally, how a food is processed is not really a factor of its ingredients. The same ingredients can be “processed” in many different ways.


Pretzels are basically just flour, oil, yeast and salt. A loaf of store-bought bread or tortillas can contain similar but many more ingredients, including preservatives, and more sodium per serving than chips, but you don’t see photos of those foods in articles about “ultra-processed foods.”


As for foods with “sugar, salt and fats to make food more appealing” being another “sign” of being ultra-processed, that is how people have been cooking at home and in restaurants for hundreds of years. Salt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice… these are among the ingredients that also have been used as natural preservatives for eons.


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