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24 Jun 2019

A transformation indicator to better classify the food supply.

Consumers have now become aware that food is a key factor in their health.

Processed industrial products, and in particular so-called "ultra-processed" products, are thus singled out as partly responsible for cardiovascular diseases, obesity or even cancer (Fiolet et al., 2018). However, if a classification of food products according to their level of processing exists (NOVA classification, Monteiro et al., 2018), it remains relatively imprecise and does not allow the diversity of the food supply in processed products to be taken into account.

To help establish recommendations for consumers, but also for industry and public authorities, and to build a safe and healthy food supply, it seems necessary to study the impacts of food processing, developed in different production contexts, on nutritional (new compounds and chemical markers) and environmental (impact on climate change, biodiversity, pollutant emissions) qualities and on consumers' perceptions of these different dimensions in terms of impacts on their health and their possible search for naturalness.

The Food Process Engineering and Microbiology (GMPA) unit of INRA and AgroParisTech has already developed a processing indicator (IDP) in 2017 as part of a project aimed at "Understanding industrial processing and the diversity of our food for healthier and more sustainable food: an example of a multi-criteria mapping of the French pizza market". This indicator showed significant differences between pizza families and between the fresh and frozen sectors. Nutritional indicators (5C, SENS) as well as the number of additives and ingredients were also very variable between pizzas. Statistical models have been set up to study the links between the different indicators.

Several projects, including a thesis project, are being prepared as part of the Nutriprevius TMN and Carnot Qualiment, involving the CTCPA in particular, in order to contribute to a food processing indicator.

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