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Processed Food Makes Its Case (sort of)

Reacting to nutrition critics who might deny processed food a place at the table, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) released a series of five videos on March 21, 2013, in support of their industry’s output.

In a stunning display of circular logic and a nifty evasion of their detractors’ criticism, the food scientists starring in these videos make the case that even whole food is processed so no one should have concerns about processed food.

Yes, that’s really their logic. The videos are short and well-worth a quick peek. Let’s follow their rationale:

Assume, first, that no nutritionist would vilify a fresh vegetable that has been picked and washed before eating. Dr. Kantha Shelke goes on from there, saying, “When you pull a carrot out of the ground, you are processing it. When you chew a carrot, you are processing it. “Without processing, “you cannot digest and get the nutrients from that product into you.”

Therefore, according to John Floros, PhD, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Kansas State University, “Everything we consume is processed…So you can’t really find processed food – or families of processed food – that are contributing more or less in terms of nutrients.”

So, the real problem, according to Eric Decker, PhD, Professor of Food Science, University of Massachusetts, is, “There’s so much negative press about processed foods that people don’t have any idea why processed foods are good for them. We need to do a better job of giving examples of why processed foods are healthy and can be an important part of the diet.”

Providing those examples, Heather Eicher-Miller, PhD, Assistant Professor, Food Science, Purdue University, cites a study that shows that “Americans really obtain a large variety of their nutrient intake from all of the levels of food processing, especially from the minimally processed and the ready-to-eat level.” She continues, reporting that the minimally processed and ready-to-eat level is those foods that “may have been washed” before being placed in a bag or other container.

There you have it. The IFT makes the point that fresh food is processed food so, ergo, processed food is good for you.

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