Nova groups for food processing

A classification in 4 groups to highlight the degree of processing of foods

In the report "The UN Decade of Nutrition, the NOVA food classification and the trouble with ultra-processing" (pdf, pdf), Carlos Augusto Monteiro, Geoffrey Cannon, Jean-Claude Moubarac, Renata Bertazzi Levy, Maria Laura C. Louzada and Patrícia Constante Jaime advocate for the adoption of a system of grades from 1 to 4 to allow to simply compare the degree of processing of products.

New research associating researchers from Inserm, Inra and the Paris 13 University (Centre de recherche épidémiologie et statistique Sorbonne Paris Cité, équipe EREN) suggest a correlation between the cosumption of ultra-transformed foods and an increased risk of developing a cancer.

Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort
Press Release in French : Consommation d’aliments ultra-transformés et risque de cancer

Some countries use the NOVA groups for their dietary guidelines or goals, for instance:

The NOVA classification assigns a group to food products based on how much processing they have been through:


  • Group 1 - Unprocessed or minimally processed foods
  • Group 2 - Processed culinary ingredients
  • Group 3 - Processed foods
  • Group 4 - Ultra-processed food and drink products

The Nova score on Open Food Facts

The formula for calculating the Nova score were published in the NOVA. The star shines bright article published in World Nutrition Volume 7, Number 1 - 3, January - March 2016

Please note that this is still experimental work as multilingual taxonomisation of ingredients is still an ongoing work on Open Food Facts.

Formula to determine the Nova group

We start by assigning group 1

We first try to identify group 2 processed culinary ingredients

Ingredients and categories associated with group 3 will not be applied to food identified as group 2

Ingredients and categories only found in group 4

You can help us determine the Nova group for more products by completing the ingredients and the categories of products.