The European Commission (EC) is asking food manufacturers and retailers to comment on a proposal to limit the amount of artificial trans fats in foods sold in the EU to a maximum of 2g per 100g of fat.
The deadline for comments is 1 November, after which the draft regulation can be approved by anexpert committee of representatives from member states, according to a Nutrition Insight report on 5 October.
If approved, the EU Council of Ministers and European Parliament would have two months to make objections. If there were no objections, the 2g limit would become EU law, although retailers and manufacturers would not have to comply until 1 April 2021, the report said.
Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fatty acid found naturally in food from ruminant animals, such as milk and beef. They are also industrially manufactured through the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils in order to improve their shelf life and produce hardened fats such as margarine and ghee.
Trans fats have been shown to raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
In May, the World Health Organization called for a global ban on industrially-produced trans fats by 2023, estimating that they are responsible for more than half a million deaths from cardiovascular disease every year.
The USA implemented a total ban on trans fats in June this year and Canada’s ban on partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) came into effect in September. While some EU member states have their own trans fats regulations, there is no EU wide legislation in place.
The International Food and Beverage Alliance – which includes major global food players such as Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, Mars, Mondelez and Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – has said its members are committed to reducing industrially produced trans fats from PHOs in their global products to no more than 1g per 100g of product by the end of 2018.