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Ultra-Processed Foods and Food System Sustainability: What Are the Links?

Abstract : Global food systems are no longer sustainable for health, the environment,animalbiodiversity and wellbeing, culinary traditions, socioeconomics, or small farmers.The increasing massive consumption of animal foods has been identified as a major determinant ofunsustainability. However, today, the consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) is also questioned.The main objective of this review is therefore to check the validity of this new hypothesis. We firstidentified the main ingredients/additives present in UPFs and the agricultural practices involvedin their provision to agro-industrials. Overall, UPF production is analysed regarding its impactson the environment, biodiversity, animal wellbeing, and cultural and socio-economic dimensions.Our main conclusion is that UPFs are associated with intensive agriculture/livestock and threaten alldimensions of food system sustainability due to the combination of low-cost ingredients at purchaseand increased consumption worldwide. However, low-animal-calorie UPFs do not produce thehighest greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) compared to conventional meat and dairy products.In addition, only reducing energy dense UPF intake, without substitution, might substantiallyreduce GHGEs. Therefore, significant improvement in food system sustainability requires urgentlyencouraging limiting UPF consumption to the benefit of mildly processed foods, preferably seasonal,organic, and local products.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03036333
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 11:51:54 AM
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Anthony Fardet, Edmond Rock. Ultra-Processed Foods and Food System Sustainability: What Are the Links?. Sustainability, MDPI, 2020, 12 (15), pp.6280. ⟨10.3390/su12156280⟩. ⟨hal-03036333⟩

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