MEPs call for limits on trans fats

MEPs call for limits on trans fats

The European Union should place mandatory limits on industrially produced trans fatty acids (TFA), according to the European Parliament.

In a vote yesterday (26 October), MEPs backed the resolution to limit trans fats in processed foods by 586 votes to 19, with 38 abstentions. 

The consumption of trans fats has been linked to increased risk of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, infertility, Alzheimer's, diabetes and obesity for consumers.

Trans fat intake is mostly linked to consumption of industrially produced, partially hydrogenated oils. The MEPs said TFAs tend to be used in cheaper foods, which means people on lower incomes are most exposed to foodstuffs with a higher trans fat content. This, in turn, increases the potential for widening health inequalities, MEPs added.

The resolution concluded labelling measures alone were not enough to combat the issue because. The MEPs pointed to data from the European Commission, which they said showed only one in three consumers are aware of the dangers presented by TFAs. 

"The Commission should therefore propose an EU legal limit on the industrial TFA content of all foods as soon as possible, and preferably within two years," the European Parliament stressed. 

MEPs noted there is evidence that Denmark's introduction of legal limits for industrial TFAs, which brought in a national limit of 2% on trans fats in oils and fats in 2003, was successful, significantly reducing deaths caused by cardiovascular disease.