The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has released nutritional profile standards to make it easier for governments to distinguish fresh and minimally processed foods from ultraprocessed ones, Dr. Marion Nestle reports on her Food Politics blog.
- “Ultra-processed foods are defined as industrially formulated food products that contain substances extracted from foods (such as casein, milk whey, and protein isolates) or substances synthesized from food constituents (such as hydrogenated oils, modified starches, and flavors). Drawing on the best scientific evidence available, the model classifies processed and ultra-processed foods and beverages as having “excessive” amounts of sugar, salt and fat according to the following criteria:
- Excessive sugar if the amount of added sugars is 10% or more of total calories
- Excessive fat if the calories from all fats are 30% or more of total calories
- Excessive saturated fat if calories from saturated fats are 10% or more of total calories
- Excessive trans fat if calories from trans fats are 1% or more of total calories
- Excessive sodium if the ratio of sodium (in milligrams) to calories (kcal) is 1:1 or higher.”
Since whole foods high in fats (i.e.: nuts) do not contain substances extracted from foods or substances synthesizes from food constituents, their high fat content would not raise a red flag.
- “PAHO’s point in setting these standards is to encourage governments to:
- Restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children
- Regulate school food environments (feeding programs and food and beverages sold in schools)
- Use front-of-package (FOP) warning labels
- Define taxation policies to limit consumption of unhealthy food
- Assess agricultural subsidies
- Identify foods to be provided by social programs to vulnerable groups.”
We agree that these are an important step, and are not surprised to learn industry is not happy.
These standards would also be very helpful in determining what companies make for appropriate sponsors for health organizations (hint, hint).