(November 2015) Thanks to the significant product formulation and innovation efforts by European food and drink manufacturers over the past decades, EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority) concluded in its scientific findings in 2004 that total intake of trans fats in most EU Member States is below the WHO recommended level of 1% dietary energy. As a result, EFSA confirmed that, overall, trans fats are not a source of public health concern in the European Union.
While the vast majority of FoodDrinkEurope members have already virtually eliminated trans fats (TFAs) from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils from their products, through its network, FoodDrinkEurope is committed to further encourage and support companies, particularly SMEs, who still face technological difficulties in achieving this. In this context, FoodDrinkEurope supports the implementation of a recommendation of maximum 2% industrial TFAs of the total fat content of the product sold to the final consumer.
Should policy-makers prefer the option of setting legislative limits, this should be intrinsically coupled with the deletion of the current obligation to label full/partial hydrogenation prescribed by Regulation 1169/2011, as such labelling would then become redundant. Moreover, evidence indicates that consumers do not understand the difference between full or partial hydrogenation, and ignore the fact that full hydrogenation leads to very low levels of trans fatty acids contrary to partial hydrogenation.
It should be noted that a total ban of industrial trans fats as such is not feasible and not realistic, as all refined vegetable oils and fats contain small unavoidable amounts of TFAs, well below 2% TFA. Furthermore, trace amounts of TFA should be permitted in minor ingredients such as additives and flavourings as these would provide nutritionally irrelevant levels in the diet.