Processing Classifications

Ultra-Processed

This group includes food products that go through extensive processing and often contain ingredients not typically found in a home kitchen. These include food additives like preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and artificial sweeteners. Ultra-processed foods are often high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and salt, and low in nutrients. Examples are soft drinks, packaged snacks, reconstituted meat products, and ready-to-eat meals.

Processed

These are made by adding salt, oil, sugar, or other substances from group 2 to foods from group 1. Their purpose is often to increase shelf life or enhance flavor. Examples include canned vegetables, fruits in syrup, cheese, and freshly made bread.

Minimally Processed

These are whole foods in which the nutritional properties are mostly intact. Examples include fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and milk. Minimal processes such as cleaning, removing inedible parts, grinding, roasting, boiling, freezing, or pasteurization might be used primarily to make the food safe to eat or more palatable.

Whole Food

These are foods in their natural state, with all their nutritional properties intact. Examples include fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and milk. These foods are consumed in the form they are found in nature, without any alterations to make them safer or more palatable.