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Nutritionists split over definition of 'processed food’

by AirTalk®

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Single serving containers of cereal made by General Mills sit on the shelf at a grocery store September 23, 2009 in Berkeley, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The assumption is that we all know what processed food is, but a recent paper put out by the American Society for Nutrition featuring an updated definition of the term is drawing a lot of flak from those in the public health community.  

In the paper, the definition of processing is expanded to mean "the alteration of foods from the state in which they are harvested or raised to better preserve them and feed consumers.” So foods that have been washed, packaged, or frozen—like frozen strawberries or chopped-up lettuce—would thus be qualified as processed.

The new definition isn’t sitting well with a lot of nutritionists. They say that the American Society of Nutrition is backed by manufacturers of processed foods and that the new delineation is essentially just industry propaganda. The American Society for Nutrition says it’s time for critics to accept that processed foods make up an important part of the American diet.


Connie Weaver, Ph.D, head of the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University, co-author of the study

Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, Editor-in-Chief of Childhood Obesity Journal

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