Long awaited progress on Trans Fats in EU

Readers of this blog will know that I have always been an advocate of avoiding artificially produced ‘Trans Fats’ which are shown on food labels as ‘partially hydrogenated fats/oils’ (see 5 Fat Facts)

Good news last week is that the European Union has passed legislation to limit the presence of these fats in all products where they are artificially added (note that naturally formed trans fats are present in some animal based products) - this means in biscuits, pastries, cakes, margarines…

The limitation will be to 2g per 100g (following the line taken by Denmark in 2003).

This reduction will have immediate health benefits across all of our societies - in Denmark they calculate the reduction of trans fats has saved 700 lives per year (source: ScienceNordic (2015) Danish ban on trans fat saves two lives a day)).

I wonder why it has taken 16 years to do what Denmark already did?

Of course we know why, the lobbying of the food industry is very powerful. Trans fats are cheap to produce and make products last a long time on the supermarket shelves… sadly bottom line figures of the few had a lot of power on the health of the many.

It tends to be the poorest people in our societies that are targeted with foods high in trans fats as they are foods that are cheap for the industry to produce and therefore widely available at low cost.

This is why this reduction is so important.

Peanut butter containing ‘hydrogenated fats’ - not even clearly labelled as ‘trans fat’

Peanut butter containing ‘hydrogenated fats’ - not even clearly labelled as ‘trans fat’

The downside of the legislation is that companies have until April 2021 to put this law in place. If people are being effected on a similar rate as in Denmark, across Europe that would be another 140,000 prematurely dying due to the food that is being pushed at them.

Take the steps for yourself and your own health:

  • Read the ingredient labels and avoid any food with ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated fat’ - this is trans fat;

  • Avoid buying ‘edible products’ from companies that use trans fats (most large multinational industrial food companies) - they are responsible for it not being a complete ban and for such a long lead in time to implementation

  • Talk to people around you - especially in the supermarket, the school … people do not know