The European Commission has indicated it believes legal limits on trans fats should be introduced

The European Commission has indicated it believes legal limits on trans fats should be introduced

The European Commission has recommended setting EU-wide limits on trans fats in food. 

Brussels has issued a report on the subject, which is a prelude to public consultation on potential measures to reduce the use of the ingredients, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease.

The report did not suggest what the limit should be but it did cite legal limits set by EU members Denmark, Latvia, Austria and Hungary as effective. Those limits are set at two grammes per 100 grammes of fat contained in any product.

Published in response to a request from the European Parliament, the report said an EU limit for trans fats would be "the most effective measure in terms of public health, consumer protection and compatibility with the internal market".

Voluntary measures will also be considered in the consultation, but the report added: "The effectiveness of voluntary approaches to food reformulation could be limited as it would clearly depend on the scope of industry participation and the coverage of food products on the market."

In October, food manufacturing giants including Nestle, Mars Inc and Kellogg have written an open letter to EU commissioners, lobbying for legislation to be introduced to limit the amount of hydrogenated vegetable oils, the main source of trans fatty acids, in processed food.

In the letter, the signatory businesses, along with European consumer organisation the BEUC, expressed concern for the adverse effect trans fats can have on consumers' health, with the ingredient strongly linked with heart disease. They urge the EU to restrict the amount of trans fats to 2g per 100g of fat, to create a "level playing field" for manufacturers.