Topic 3 Recommendations and legislation against trans-fat

The World Health Organisation recommends that trans fatty acid consumption is limited to less than 1% of total daily energy intake. This can be translated to less than 2.2 grams of trans fat daily for an average adult who requires 2000 kcal a day.

Worldwide people tend to consume about 0.3 to 4.2% of their total daily energy intake, a proportion that varies between countries. This might show that most countries still consume more than the recommended amount of trans fat, but the truth is the opposite. Nowadays, in the majority of countries, adults consume less than 1%, with only a few countries having significantly higher consumption, most of which are located outside Europe.

The European Parliament states that the content of trans fat, other than those naturally occurring in animal products, in foods intended for the final consumer, and in foods intended for retail sale must not exceed 2 grams per 100 grams of the product (Commission Regulation (EU) 2019/649).

Food business operators must also inform other food business operators to whom they provide food/ingredients about the trans fat content if this exceeds the threshold of 2 grams per 100 grams.

Core message:

This regulation states that self-products should have less than 2 grams of industry-generated or added trans fat and the manufacturers should be aware of ingredients high in trans fat.

The extent that each member country adheres to these regulations varies but overall, all countries will be expected to meet them.

Another European Union regulation is the requirement to label the existence of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat in a product by having the indication of “fully hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients section.

This information helps the consumers identify if the product contains industrially added/generated trans-fat but does not indicate the quantity.

Yet, even the indication of their existence might not be sufficient as about 2 in 3 EU adults report having heard nothing about trans fats and their effect on health.