Thanks Janet - Yes, the study referred to Ultra-processed foods (Category 4 on the NOVA scale) Bacon or smoked meats are a category 3. Here is a breakdown on NOVA category 4 foods.
The fourth NOVA group is of ultra-processed food and drink products. These are industrial
formulations typically with five or more and usually many ingredients. Such ingredients often
include those also used in processed foods, such as sugar, oils, fats, salt, anti-oxidants,
stabilisers, and preservatives. Ingredients only found in ultra-processed products include
substances not commonly used in culinary preparations, and additives whose purpose is to
imitate sensory qualities of group 1 foods or of culinary preparations of these foods, or to
disguise undesirable sensory qualities of the final product. Group 1 foods are a small
proportion of or are even absent from ultra-processed products.
Substances only found in ultra-processed products include some directly extracted from
foods, such as casein, lactose, whey, and gluten, and some derived from further processing
of food constituents, such as hydrogenated or interesterified oils, hydrolysed proteins, soy
protein isolate, maltodextrin, invert sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Classes of additive
only found in ultra-processed products include dyes and other colours, colour stabilisers,
flavours, flavour enhancers, non-sugar sweeteners, and processing aids such as
carbonating, firming, bulking and anti-bulking, de-foaming, anti-caking and glazing agents,
emulsifiers, sequestrants and humectants.
Several industrial processes with no domestic equivalents are used in the manufacture of
ultra-processed products, such as extrusion and moulding, and pre-processing for frying.
The main purpose of industrial ultra-processing is to create products that are ready to eat, to
drink or to heat, liable to replace both unprocessed or minimally processed foods that are
naturally ready to consume, such as fruits and nuts, milk and water, and freshly prepared
drinks, dishes, desserts and meals. Common attributes of ultra-processed products are
hyper-palatability, sophisticated and attractive packaging, multi-media and other aggressive
marketing to children and adolescents, health claims, high profitability, and branding and
ownership by transnational corporations.
Examples of typical ultra-processed products are: carbonated drinks; sweet or savoury
packaged snacks; ice-cream, chocolate, candies (confectionery); mass-produced packaged
breads and buns; margarines and spreads; cookies (biscuits), pastries, cakes, and cake
mixes; breakfast ‘cereals’, ‘cereal’ and ‘energy’ bars; ‘energy’ drinks; milk drinks, ‘fruit’
yoghurts and ‘fruit’ drinks; cocoa drinks; meat and chicken extracts and ‘instant’ sauces;
infant formulas, follow-on milks, other baby products; ‘health’ and ‘slimming’ products such
as powdered or ‘fortified’ meal and dish substitutes; and many ready to heat products
including pre-prepared pies and pasta and pizza dishes; poultry and fish ‘nuggets’ and
‘sticks’, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and other reconstituted meat products, and powdered
and packaged ‘instant’ soups, noodles and desserts.
When products made solely of group 1 or group 3 foods also contain cosmetic or sensory
intensifying additives, such as plain yoghurt with added artificial sweeteners, and breads
with added emulsifiers, they are classified here in group 4. When alcoholic drinks are
identified as foods, those produced by fermentation of group 1 foods followed by distillation
of the resulting alcohol, such as whisky, gin, rum, vodka, are classified in group 4.