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How food processing adds contamination

NOTE: This is an edited version of Appendix 3 of the “Revised Stealth Syndromes Study Protocol as approved by the University of California San Francisco Medical School Committee on Human Research.


Contamination of basic foods — even those that do not undergo extensive processing — comes from:

  • Contact with contaminated soil and water during planting, irrigation and growth.
  • Exposure to plastics during harvest from conveyor belts, chutes, pipes, baffles and other equipment.
  • Exposure to plastic in the washing process through the use of bins, tanks, implements and pipes.
  • Exposure to plastics during the drying and packing stages including the use of recycled or coated cardboard.

Contamination through processing

This article from the British Medical Journal offers a look at many of the substances added to highly processed foods: Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort

While the BMJ article focused on the nutritional downsides to processing, it’s vital to recognize that each processing operation and additive — regardless of nutritional value — brings with it its own unique contamination trail and chemical burdens that are incorporated into a highly processed food product for sale.

The following is an excerpt from that BMJ article which provides a concise explanation of “processing” and many ways in which processing introduces questionable substances including chemicals from plastics. Bullets and additional paragraph breaks have been added to improve readability.

Degree of food processing

“We categorized all food and drink items of the NutriNet-Santé composition table into one of the four food groups in NOVA, a food classification system based on the extent and purpose of industrial food processing.

“This study primarily focused on the “ultra-processed foods” NOVA group.

“This group includes:

  • mass produced packaged breads and buns;
  • sweet or savory packaged snacks;
  • industrialized confectionery and desserts;
  • sodas and sweetened drinks;
  • meat balls,
  • poultry and fish nuggets, and other reconstituted meat products transformed with addition of preservatives other than salt (for example, nitrites);
  • instant noodles and soups;
  • frozen or shelf stable ready meals; and
  • other food products made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats, and other substances not commonly used in culinary preparations such as hydrogenated oils, modified starches, and protein isolates.

Industrial processes notably include hydrogenation, hydrolysis, extruding, moulding, reshaping, and pre-processing by frying.

Flavouring agents, colours, emulsifiers, humectants, non-sugar sweeteners, and other cosmetic additives are often added to these products to imitate sensorial properties of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.

Unprocessed or minimally processed

  1. “fresh, dried, ground, chilled, frozen, pasteurized, or fermented staple foods such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, rice, pasta, eggs, meat, fish, or milk),
  2. “processed culinary ingredients” (salt, vegetable oils, butter, sugar, and other substances extracted from foods and used in kitchens to transform unprocessed or minimally processed foods into culinary preparations), and
  3. “processed foods” (canned vegetables with added salt, sugar coated dried fruits, meat products preserved only by salting, cheeses, freshly made unpackaged breads, and other products manufactured with the addition of salt, sugar, or other substances of the “processed culinary ingredients” group.

Stealth Syndromes Human Study holds diet to far stricter standards.

The following have problems and are all subject to contamination by plastic chemicals or other undesirable processes.

Further posts will detail the extreme lengths we were forced to go to further eliminate contaminants

  • dried,
  • ground,
  • chilled,
  • frozen,
  • pasteurized,
  • fermented
  • salt,
  • vegetable oils,
  • butter,
  • sugar,
  • canned foods
  • sugar coated
  • meat products preserved only by salting,
  • cheeses,
  • freshly made unpackaged breads,