25 October 2023
As a team of nutrition scientists and educators operating since 1967, we are a charity that collaborates with food-producers and retailers to help shape a healthier food environment. We stand by our work and its positive impact, emphasising our commitment to providing impartial, evidence based information and improving access to healthier, affordable and more sustainable diets for all.
The purpose of this statement is to further clarify our position on ultra-processed food (UPF), explain why we work with industry and the safeguards we use to protect our scientific integrity.
Ultra Processed Foods
Ultra-processed food is an area of focus across the global nutrition science community.
Our position on UPF was developed internally and critically reviewed by our independent Scientific Committee. It is based solely upon our understanding of the scientific literature and is independent of our relationships with organisations across the UK food system. It closely aligns to that of the Academy of Nutrition Sciences and of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Our position statement “The Concept Of Ultra Processed Foods (UPF)” is available on our website.
We acknowledge the association between high UPF intake and poor health outcomes but, as almost all studies to date have been observational, we believe that further research is needed to establish a causal link, to understand the mechanisms involved, and to distinguish the impacts of the nutritional composition of food (in particular, levels of saturated fat, salt & sugar) from those of processing per se.
The British Nutrition Foundation does not lobby or endorse products, nor do we allow commercial or political pressure to influence when publishing or disseminating information. We safeguard our impartiality through our governance. Membership of our Board of Trustees, Advisory Committee and Scientific Committee is weighted heavily towards the scientific community, with limited membership from key stakeholder audiences. The Scientific Committee provides an additional layer of scrutiny to our positions on key issues.
Working with industry
We believe that significant improvements to the food environment can be achieved when executed in concert with organisations and institutions well placed to deliver change at scale.
Simply put, we believe that a healthy, balanced sustainable diet based on vegetables, fruits and unprocessed whole foods is desirable – and we advocate for this.
However, it is simply unrealistic to remove all commercially produced foods from UK diets. Furthermore, we believe that some UPF - wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread and baked beans for example - have a positive role to play in widening access to a healthy, sustainable diet and, importantly, represent foods that support millions of families with accessible, affordable nutrition.
We reject wholeheartedly oversimplified and unfounded criticisms of our approach.
We assure stakeholders that we will continue to uphold our standards of integrity and independence and remain focussed on our vision to help widen access to healthy sustainable diets for everyone.
Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive.
Professor John Mathers, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Professor of Human Nutrition, Newcastle University.
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