Julie Miller Jones, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Food Scientist, received her B.S. degree from Iowa State University (ISU) and her Ph.D. Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. Currently, she is a Professor Emerita and Distinguished Scholar of Food and Nutrition at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. She has twice been named the outstanding professor, was awarded the Myser Award as a professor ‘who made a difference in people’s lives.’ She regularly communicates about whole grains and dietary fiber, carbohydrates, sugars, the glycemic index, gluten free, and food safety and fad diets and has several books and a number of publications. She has served as President and Board Chair of the American Association of Cereal Chemists International (AACCI), and Chair of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Nutrition Division. She has received a number of awards including the Geddes Award from AACCI, ISU alumna award in Food Science and Nutrition at her 50th reunion and was made a Fellow of AACCI, IFT, and International Cereal Chemists (ISS). She is a scientific advisor for many organizations including te Grains Food Foundation and the Carbohydrate Quality Initiative and the Whole Grain Definition Committee of HelathGrain/AACCI/ICC.
Some health professionals and dietary guidance ( NOVA) and advocate ‘avoidance of processed foods (PFs), especially ultra-processed foods (UPFs).’ However, the NOVA categorization deviates from codified and technical definitions of food processing and its complexity, because criteria such as - whether the food has 5 or fewer ingredients, is prepared at home or a local bakery, is packaged in paper or plastic, or contains sugar, additives or fortificants –are unrelated to processing complexity or adverse health effects. Casting aspersions on PFs/UPFs, regardless of their nutritive content or dietary role, is not helpful, especially if these foods fit consumers’ budgetary, time, resource, culinary skills or medical constraints. All the latter present difficulties in the constructing a healthy, workable, affordable dietary pattern using the recommended minimally processed foods. Recommendations to avoid grains or fortified foods prejudice many against the inclusion of these economical, shelf stable, and nutritious PFs/ UPFs and can have adverse health and nutrition implications. The following examples of their avoidance will be discussed including avoidance of: 1) infant formula for babies of women unable to breastfeed, 2) whole grain and fortified breads/ cereals or flavored milks and the likely decreases in intakes of whole grains, dietary fiber, folate and B vitamins, calcium and iron, and 3) foods developed for special needs, eg. celiac, lactose intolerance or the shift to plant-based diets with alternative meats and dairy foods. Research must document that NOVA’s adoption is workable, while neither impairing intakes of critical dietary components nor adversely impacting public health.