A new classification of foods based on the extent and purpose of their processing

Cad Saude Publica. 2010 Nov;26(11):2039-49. doi: 10.1590/s0102-311x2010001100005.


This paper describes a new food classification which assigns foodstuffs according to the extent and purpose of the industrial processing applied to them. Three main groups are defined: unprocessed or minimally processed foods (group 1), processed culinary and food industry ingredients (group 2), and ultra-processed food products (group 3). The use of this classification is illustrated by applying it to data collected in the Brazilian Household Budget Survey which was conducted in 2002/2003 through a probabilistic sample of 48,470 Brazilian households. The average daily food availability was 1,792 kcal/person being 42.5% from group 1 (mostly rice and beans and meat and milk), 37.5% from group 2 (mostly vegetable oils, sugar, and flours), and 20% from group 3 (mostly breads, biscuits, sweets, soft drinks, and sausages). The share of group 3 foods increased with income, and represented almost one third of all calories in higher income households. The impact of the replacement of group 1 foods and group 2 ingredients by group 3 products on the overall quality of the diet, eating patterns and health is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Diet / economics*
  • Diet / standards
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Food / classification*
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Linear Models