Trans fats legislation backed by European Commission
Call for Europe-wide legal limit on hydrogenated fats in food products
A food substance linked with heart disease should be limited by law, according to the European Commission (EC).
In a study published this week the EC backed a legal limit on the substance in foods at a European level, after a similar decision was made in the United States.
Trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are added to foods to extend shelf life relatively cheaply and frequently used in fast food and margarines in the form of hydrogenated oils, but research revealed it contains substances which can block arteries and lead to major health problems such as heart disease.
Several EU countries already have legal limits, including Denmark, the report notes.
The report was initially due out over a year ago, but in the interim some industry big names have adopted to back the legislative approach, with Nestlé, Mars, Kellogg’s and Mondelēz joining EU consumer group BEUC in mid-October to call for the restrictions.
Traditionally industry has backed self-regulation.
The BMA’s Paul Laffin said the move was indicative of a “changing climate” in attitudes to food regulation.
"We welcome the EC's report which supports our longstanding assertion that regulatory action is needed to lower the consumption of industrially processed trans fats as the voluntary approach, until now favoured by the food industry, has been demonstrably ineffective in doing so,” he said.
Alyn Smith MEP said: “This is a crucial issue for Scotland’s health. The complexity of modern food supply chains mean that this needs to be dealt with above a member state level. This is precisely the kind of work the EU can do well and I hope that the Commission will follow up on this report with action.”
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