Abstract: As highly restrictive diets fall from popularity and flexitarian-inspired eating patterns take hold, consumers are left to ponder what matters most to them in their food and beverage choices. From nutrition to functional ingredients to packaging sustainability, the discourse about clean eating and purported goals of clean labeling is rapidly evolving. Add in the ongoing effects of a global pandemic, and the social dialogue about food, health, and the planet becomes one replete with facts, fiction, and contradictions. Dr. Rachel Cheatham from Foodscape Group provided guidance on how to best navigate how “clean eating” impacts manufacturers’ ingredient decisions. She also discussed the continuing evolution of clean eating with an eye towards better new product innovation.
Rachel Cheatham, Ph.D., Founder & CEO, Foodscape Group, LLC, “Clean Eating” Impacts Manufacturers’ Ingredient Decisions—Speaker at the 2022 Clean Label Conference
Extract from a summary article titled Clean Eating Narrative Informs Innovation of this presentation is as follows:
“The trickle-down effect from policymakers to traditional and social media led to consumers questioning whether scientists know what they are doing,” noted Cheatham. “Often, these ingredient-level inconsistencies of being approved or disapproved for use further fuel the global clean label debate.”
Select retailers are identifying unacceptable ingredients. Whole Foods lists 230+ banned ingredients, including FD&C colors, calcium disodium EDTA, partially hydrogenated oil, DATEM, CBD/cannabidiol, Ginkgo biloba, soy leghemoglobin, hijiki and insect flour.
“The list is quite lengthy and, yet, we can’t say for sure why certain ingredients are on the list. There isn’t a lot of substantiation or reason provided. Nonetheless, this is the list brands must abide by if they want to be cleared for sales at this retailer,” observed Cheatham.
Forward to 2019 and the development of the NOVA system in which foods and beverages are grouped into one of four categories. Ultra-Processed Foods (UPFs) are coming under increased scrutiny. UPFs, which did not exist before the mid-20th century beyond a few products, now account for 59% of the total calories consumed in the U.S. (See chart “What Are Ultra-Processed Foods?”) [Global Food Research Program, https://bit.ly/3y8eLGY].