‘Industry’s latest bogeyman’: Does Superloaf prove that not all UPFs should be tarred with the same brush?

UPFs have found themselves at the center of a growing storm of controversy.

Last month, a pan-European study from the EIT Food Consumer Observatory revealed 65% of Europeans believe UPF are unhealthy, while 60% consider them to be bad for the environment, linked to the perception of unnaturalness, the presence of chemicals and industrial production.

This follows a review published in the BMJ that UPFs have been linked to 32 harmful health effects,​​ including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and mental health problems. The researchers used data from 9.9 million people, coming from food questionnaires and dietary history.

An earlier study, however, found that not all UPFs should be tarred with the same brush.​

Yes, the link was most notable for animal-based UPFs and artificially and sugar-sweetened beverages, but “other subgroups such as ultra-processed breads and cereals or plant-based alternatives were not associated with risk,” said the researchers.

In fact, some brands are motivating to come up with highly processed products that are actually good for health, such as Modern Baker’s Superloaf. Coined as ‘the healthiest loaf ever made’, ​​the loaf has uniquely shown that carb based UPFs can be re-engineered to become a vehicle for positive nutrition, or ‘food as medicine’.

After garnering six years of Innovate UK-backing to create the gut-friendly bread, the startup has now secured a three-year licencing agreement with UK manufacturing giant Hovis to “make a health-positive impact on the UK’s staple food at scale,” said Modern Baker’s cofounder Melissa Sharp.