We used to enjoy buying, preparing and eating what we called oven foods. Instructions: preheat oven, use scissors to remove cardboard and plastic packaging, place in oven and go watch TV or read a magazine, allow to cool, serve.
Fernanda Rauber et al describe oven foods this way: “Ultra-processed foods, as defined by the NOVA food classification system, are not modified or merely processed foods. They are industrial formulations manufactured from substances derived from foods, which typically contain cosmetic and various other types of additive and little if any intact food. These products are designed to be extremely palatable and convenient, are often sold in large portion sizes, and are aggressively marketed.”
Interesting that they are “industrial formulations manufactured from substances derived from foods.” A food-like substance, with “little if any intact food.”
They also point out, “From the lowest to the highest ultra-processed food quintile, the greatest increases in dietary share came from industrial pizza (+630%), soft and fruit drinks (+410%), industrial chips (French fries).”
Industrial pizza! I found this on an Australian website for McCain Supreme Family Pizza. “Pizza base (wheat flour, water, vegetable oils (palm, canola, coconut), emulsifiers (435, 471), flavour, yeast, salt, wheat flour, soy flour), sauce (water, tomato paste, flavours (xanthan gum (415), soy oil), cheese (milk solids, salt, enzymes, starter cultures), processed ham (14%) (pork, water, wheat starch, soy protein, wheat gluten, acidity regulators (451, 450), gelling agent (508), hydrolysed vegetable protein, sugar, stabiliser (407a), natural flavour, antioxidant (316), fermented rice, preservative (250), pork protein, salt), Capsicum (4%), Mushrooms (3%), onions (1%).” That sounds very industrial, complete with parts numbers.
Rauber et al go on to say, “several products that are often marketed and perceived as healthy, for example, granola bars, low-fat flavoured yogurt, low-energy frozen dinners, most industrially produced breads and canned soups, are also ultra-processed.”
To go down this garden path, we see that “Non-ultra-processed foods encompass ‘unprocessed or minimally processed foods’ including fresh, dry or frozen fruits or vegetables, grains, legumes, meat, fish and milk; ‘processed culinary ingredients’ including table sugar, oils, fats, salt and other constituents extracted from foods or from nature and used in kitchens to make culinary preparations; and ‘processed foods’ including foods such as canned fish and vegetables and artisanal cheeses, which are manufactured by adding salt, sugar, oil or other processed culinary ingredients to unprocessed or minimally processed foods.” I mean, we don’t raise and butcher our own chickens (although we have friends who do), so our fresh whole plucked dead chicken is a minimally processed food. And we don’t catch and can our own fish, although we have friends who do.
And, according to “Association Between Ultra-Processed Food Consumption and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders,” there is a link between Ultra Processed Foods and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Their study suggests an association between UPF and IBS. “ The pathophysiology of FGIDs remains unclear but several mechanisms have been evoked including motility disturbance, visceral hypersensitivity, altered mucosal function, altered gut microbiota, and gut-brain axis dysfunction.”
Bad for your gut and your gut-brain axis.
Oh, and cognitive decline. Filippa Juul et al tell us “The state of the intestinal microbiota is a possible clinical marker candidate in the association assessment between neuroinflammation, cognitive decline, and consumption of ultra-processed food.”
You know what else is bad about oven food? The packaging. The study “Ultra-processed food consumption and exposure to phthalates and bisphenols in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey” says “Ultra-processed food has low nutritional quality, is associated with development of chronic diseases, and may increase exposure to chemicals used in food packaging and production.”
The FDA explains, “Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products, such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other fragrance preparations.”
Put away your scissors, do not preheat the oven, do not allow to cool, do not serve. But I do miss the Oriental Party Pack, ready just a few minutes after you have re-wound the rented VHS tape.
Buckley, J. (2019.) “Ultra-processed food consumption and exposure to phthalates and bisphenols in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2013–2014.” From https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019317416
FDA (N.D.) From https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/phthalates
Juul, F. et al. (2018.) “Ultra-processed food consumption and excess weight among US adults,” British Journal of Nutrition. From https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/ultraprocessed-food-consumption-and-excess-weight-among-us-adults/5D2D713B3A85F5C94B0C98A1F224D04A/core-reader
Pizza Ingredients. (N.D.) From https://mccain.com.au/product/supreme-family-pizza-500g/
Rauber , F et al. (2018.) “Ultra-Processed Food Consumption and Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases-Related Dietary Nutrient Profile in the UK (2008–2014).” From https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/5/587/htm
Schnabel, L. (2018.) “Association Between Ultra-Processed Food Consumption and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Results From the French NutriNet-Santé Cohort.” From https://journals.lww.com/ajg/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2018&issue=08000&article=00020&type=Fulltext