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The myth around factory-made ...

We often dismiss processed foods as anything made in a factory.  Read here for Sameer’s views on differentiating beneficial ingredients being used in large scale format to the true meaning of processed. 


I often get asked if foods made in industrial-scale factories are lower quality, or unhealthier than those made in the average domestic kitchen. As a former chef and head of a large-scale food manufacturing business and now the co-founder of a better kind of chocolate brand, I’m happy to share my experience ... 

The average domestic kitchen has 1 fridge and a 4 burner stove. A restaurant kitchen may have 24 burners and multiple walk-in refrigerators. If both kitchens are cooking the same fresh ingredients, should we deem the large-scale restaurant kitchen to be less healthy? 

In my experience factory production floors are nothing less than giant kitchens, regulated with the highest standards of hygiene and food safety. When I ran biscuit factories, we used 800kg mixers, giant versions of a home cake mixer! Food factories need to scale to handle large volumes of product, which in turn enables economies of scale and lower costs of production.  

“Factory-made” appears to have become a bit of a scapegoat for quality of ingredients and process. Mother nature provides us with, and science shows us that eating sustainably grown food, as close to its natural, nutrient-rich state as possible is of maximum benefit. Ingredients used in a factory can also be “natural” and “unprocessed” and if that state is preserved the fact that a giant machine has churned out 1000 units per minute, is irrelevant to health credentials. 

The irony I have noticed is that ultra-processed ingredients like milk powders, refined sugars and emulsifiers (which have all been through multiple processes which strip out their nutrients) are cheap for factories to use. Yet natural, unrefined ingredients, straight from the plant (with nutrients intact) are more expensive. 

The key is demand. If as consumers we demand better quality, more readily available, natural snacks then more will be produced on a larger scale. The larger the scale, the lower the cost enabling more people to access better.   

So, let’s not get distracted by the giant cake mixer. Let’s interrogate the ingredients in the products that we choose and use our purchase power to create positive change. 

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