Cheers to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization for releasing nutritional profile standards for making it easier for governments to distinguish fresh and minimally processed foods from ultraprocessed. The idea here is to encourage populations to consume traditional diets (see press release).
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.
PAHO’s point in setting these standards is to encourage governments to:
Restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children (see PAHO Plan of Action for the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescents)