Among the fatty acids, some of them are called “trans fatty acids or TFA”. “Trans fatty acids” refers to fatty acids with at least one non-conjugated (namely interrupted by at least one methylene group) carbon-carbon double bond in the trans configuration (Regulation 1169/2011).
TFA can originate from animals as they are produced in the rumen of ruminant animals and hence are found in dairy products, butter and meat. They can also come from the hydrogenation of vegetable oils and fats and also arise during the refining process of vegetable oils and fats, as indicated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
For EFSA, and as highlighted in the Commission report, “evidence is insufficient to establish whether there is a difference between ruminant and industrial TFA consumed in equivalent amounts on the risk of coronary heart disease”. Hence, there is no reason to believe that TFA from animal origin have a different effect on human health than TFA from vegetable origin.
Over the past 15 years, FEDIOL members have been supporting industry initiatives to reduce TFA in vegetable oils and fats, including reformulation, optimisation of refining processes and by establishing a code of good manufacturing practices. Following these numerous industry actions, low TFA vegetable oil and fat formulations are provided to consumers, enabling overall reductions in the TFA content of food products.
FEDIOL has been active in the topic of TFA for many years. It took part in numerous Commission consultations, feedback process and stakeholder input since 2014. This led first to the Commission report on TFA published in end 2015. On 25 April 2019, the Commission Regulation (EU) 2019/649 addressing trans fatty acids, other than naturally occurring, was published in the Official Journal. It introduces a maximum content of non-ruminant TFA of 2 grams per 100 grams of fat, in food intended for the final consumer and food intended for supply to retail.
Since 2014, FEDIOL supports the setting of an EU 2% non-ruminant TFA legal limit on fat basis in products intended to final consumers BUT ALSO the deletion of the existing full/partial hydrogenation labelling as prescribed by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011.
To understand why vegetable oils can be hydrogenated and how it is linked to the current TFA debate
What is the difference between the EU vs. US approach ?