EU-wide action on trans fats 'overshadowed' by Brexit, warns Alyn Smith

Written by Tom Freeman on 31 October 2016 in News

Trans fats vote shows EU-wide action can tackle public health challenges, according to SNP MEP Alyn Smith

Alyn Smith - credit EP audiovisual

A vote by the European Parliament calling for an EU-wide legal limit on industrial trans fats and fatty acids in food illustrates the value of working with Europe, SNP MEP Alyn Smith has said.

Trans fats are widely used in mass-produced food, frequently used in fast food and margarines in the form of hydrogenated oils, but the World Health Organisation recommends they should form less than one per cent of an adult's daily energy intake.

The European Parliament has called on the European Commission to establish a legal limit, as Denmark did in 2003, “as soon as possible”.


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The vote follows a report for the EC in December recommending the measure, which saw support from Nestlé, Mars, Kellogg’s and Mondelēz.

Industry has traditionally preferred self-regulation.

Smith says the momentum shows how working continent-wide can apply pressure.

“I am delighted the Parliament has supported this resolution on an issue that I have been campaigning on for almost a decade,” he said.

“Although we have seen from the experience of Denmark that this policy can work at a member state level modern supply chains mean that it can only be truly effective if restrictions are applied across the Single Market.

“This is yet another great example of how Europe can work to improve the lives of citizens from Scotland to the Mediterranean on issues that need to be dealt with across borders.”

The result, said Smith, has been “overshadowed” by Brexit.

“At the moment it is impossible to know whether consumers from Scotland and the rest of the UK will gain the health benefits that we all should enjoy,” he added.  

“The reality is that this will come down to the UK Government and I hope (though have little faith) that they will match the standards of the EU.”

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