04 Dec 2023
30 Nov 2023
Processed foods are used across the world and there are country-specific regulations for health and quality. India also has regulations that mandate manufacturers to display the nutritive value of food products. Our objective was to estimate the nutritive value of ‘ready-to-eat’ foods and foods that need minimal preparation (pre-cooked/frozen) or no preparation available in the online market in India. A cross-sectional survey of all the processed food items available in the online market was done during April – May 2020. These were operationally classified as baked products, beverages, breakfast cereals, heat-and-eat products, pasta-noodles, snacks, and soups. The nutritive value as mentioned on the food labels were noted from 398 such products; baked products (49), beverages (84), and breakfast cereals (44), heat and eat products (55), pasta and noodles (39), snacks (87) and soups (40). Breakfast cereals and heat-and-eat products had the best balance of calories, proteins, and fats. Median energy was 386.9 Kcalories (IQR: 25.6), 8.3g proteins (IQR: 2.6), and fats 4.2g (IQR: 4.9) in the breakfast cereal whereas the heat and eat products per 100g had a median of 344 kcal (IQR: 205), 8 g protein (IQR 5.3) and 6g (8.4) median fat. The highest fat content was in the snacks with a median of 23.3g (median: 21.6) with the highest up to 38g. Transfats levels were missing in 86 (21.6%) products. Sodium levels were missing in 215 (54%) products. Initiatives for healthy processed foods and appropriate labeling will aid consumers to make an informed decision while purchasing these products from the market.