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"Italian Cuisine: The Future Filled with Junk Food?" The English Expert's Warning: "You Are at Risk"

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina chris van tulleken

"Not food, but substances created to take money and transfer it to the food industry": this is the bleak outlook for the future of the Mediterranean diet as defined by Chris van Tulleken, who predicts a disturbing shift in Italian culinary traditions.

@photo credits Chris van Tulleken

The News

Chris van Tulleken, a British doctor and scientist, has extensively studied our dietary habits and has authored the bestseller Ultra-Processed Foods. He is adamant about the dire future awaiting Italian cuisine, with ultra-processed food—defined scientifically not just as junk food, but as products containing components not typically found in home pantries, like emulsifiers, preservatives, coloring, flavorings, and stabilizers—poised to take over.

chris van tulleke Story Image Makers ltd
@Story Image Makers ltd

Even pizza, often celebrated as a global symbol of food simplicity, is being transformed into a vehicle for addiction through the use of chemical additives, excessive salt, fats, and sugars. This manipulation aims to increase consumption and profits at the cost of health, utilizing the cheapest ingredients while exploiting science for industrial gain.

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The problem is especially acute in countries like the UK, where ultra-processed foods make up 60% of the average caloric intake, significantly impairing public health. However, for major food industries, profit trumps consumer well-being. According to van Tulleken, such diets are leading causes of premature death alongside tobacco, contributing to cancer, metabolic diseases, dementia, obesity, and more. Not only is food consumed excessively, but it also includes harmful components like saturated fats and additives that disrupt the microbiome, while lacking essential nutrients. These are often new molecules, never before consumed in human history, making this a dangerous experiment on public health.

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"Creating this food to make people addicted," confess some industry insiders in the book. In this model, food ceases to be about nourishment, sharing, and love, becoming merely a tool for profit at any cost. In Italy, ultra-processed foods currently account for 25% of caloric intake—less than in the UK—but the food industry is preparing for a final assault, evidenced by the arrivals of Starbucks and KFC.

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"My selfish end is to save Italian cuisine, which I love. I know Italians want this too. But Italian food will be destroyed by big food industries," van Tulleken declares in a recent video interview with La Repubblica. He advocates for consumers to read ingredients, even in supermarkets, and calls for food labeling, taxing harmful foods, and banning their advertising and sponsorships, following the example of some South American countries.

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