EU Sets Legal Limit for Trans FatsThursday, May 2, 2019
The European Commission adopted on April 24, 2019 a regulation that sets a 2% legal limit to the amount of trans fats in processed foods. Per the legislation, processed food products that contain more than 2g of trans fats per 100g of fat must be declared to retailers by wholesalers, as of April 1, 2021. The regulation has been met with praise from certain industry organizations in Europe such as FoodDrinkEurope, and FEDIOL which represents the European vegetable oils and protein meal industry.
Trans fatty acids (TFAs) occur naturally in small amounts in certain foods such as meat and cheese. The public health risk, however, relates to industrial, or artificial fats. These are produced by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils, which can be found in margarine and some hardened vegetable fats. While partially hydrogenated oils have been traditionally favored by food manufacturers for their low cost and longer shelf life, high levels of consumption have been associated with non communicable diseases such as heart disease and stroke. It is also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Europe. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that trans fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease per year. According to the WHO, diets high in trans fat increase heart disease risk by 21% and deaths by 28%.