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Forschung • Nutrition ecological assessment of highly processed food

M. Riegel and I. Hoffmann

Institute of Nutritional Sciences Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Germany

Poster auf dem 18. International Congress of Nutrition, Durban, Südafrika, September 2005


Recently the market for highly processed foods and ready-to-eat meals has grown rapidly, both for organic and conventional products. Whereas much research data are available on health aspects little is known about the sustainability of these products.

In this study highly processed foods of organic and conventional origin were assessed by using the approach of nutrition ecology. On the level of health, environment, society and economy, we compared highly processed foods replacing meals using a model of an ideal sustainable processed food as standard. Since the study was embedded in a transdisciplinary research project this model was developed based on an extensive involvement of experts from different groups along the food supply chain (farmers, food industry, retailers and consumers) and integration of their knowledge. From this model criteria and indicators were deduced for the nutrition ecological assessment of processed foods.

Of all criteria evaluated the ones concerning consumers directly (like authenticity, packaging, consumer information and palatability) performed unfavourably for most organic products. The comparison of highly processed foods of organic and conventional origin was problematic since the market for processed foods of organic origin is quite new and the selection of highly processed foods of organic produce replacing a meal is limited. In addition, a great number of these foods are produced in a job order production by conventional companies using organic ingredients and following the EU Council Regulations for organic food.

The study shows potentials for improvements and areas for further-reaching evaluations. As a consequence of the study, guidelines for different interest groups along the food supply chain will be developed in order to design and consume products that are highly processed and meet the criteria for sustainability.

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