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The EU and its war against trans-fatty acids

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08/12/2015

On 3 December 2015, the European Commission published its long-awaited report regarding trans fats in foods and  in the overall diet of the Union population. The report was adopted pursuant to Article 30(7) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, which states that it is up to the Commission to assess the various options available to promote healthy food selection, and in particular to reduce intake of trans fats. 

After highlighting the high societal costs unhealthy eating habits generates, the report briefly discusses how regulators across the globe have tried to reduce intake of trans-fatty acids (TFA). This overview shows that by adopting composition standards  limiting the presence of TFA in foods, EU Member States such as Denmark and Austria have already taken far-reaching measures. The same approach was adopted in various South and Middle American countries were large parts of the population suffer from overweight and obesity. Apart from (far-reaching) compositional standards, the report mentions mandatory TFA content declaration, voluntary agreements towards reducing TFA in foods and diets, and guidance for national legal limits on the TFA content of food as measures that could be taken at EU level. An alternative approach would be to leave it to the national authorities to take action.

Stressing that an EU legal limit on the industrial TFA content of food can be expected to achieve the biggest positive impact for public health, the report offers strong support for public health advocates favouring an interventionist approach.

Click here to download the report