Food giants join BEUC call to limit harmful trans-fats

BEUC NEWS - 15.10.2015

Major international food companies and health NGOs have joined forces with BEUC in a letter today calling on the European Commission to act and bridle the use of harmful industrial trans-fats (TFAs). Committed businesses are Nestlé, Mars, Kellogg’s and Mondelēz. Pastries, fries and margarine are among the foodstuff most loaded with those artery-clogging fats.

BEUC applauds the co-signing companies’ move to echo its call for an EU-wide legal limit of 2 grams of TFAs per 100 grams of fat and encourages others to follow suit.

BEUC Director General  Monique Goyens reacted:

“We are thrilled major food companies acknowledge the need to slash trans-fatty acids from their foods and join our sustained effort. It is high time the Commission heeds our call and helps EU consumers drop their trans-fat intake by fixing legal caps.”

BEUC has issued many wake-up calls about the need for legal limits to restrict the use of those harmful fats in the food we eat. Back in 2006, BEUC already stressed the necessity to introduce caps or bans. Our member organisations have continuously voiced the same concerns for many years1. A few months ago BEUC wrote to Member States and to the European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker calling for EU legal limits to protect all consumers and provide a common level-playing field for businesses. Still, the BEUC calls went unheeded.

And BEUC was not alone in its effort to curb trans-fats consumption. Back in 2011, failing to reach a deal on the best option to limit TFA consumption, Members of the European Parliament and Member States governments asked the Commission to publish a report exploring different options - including laws. While the deadline was December 2014, the Commission is still expected to launch such a report almost one year on.

Read our joint letter here

What exactly are trans-fats?

Industrially-produced trans-fatty acids are meant to extend products’ shelf life, enable repeated heating or help the fat become solid. They have long been favoured by the industry because they are cheap, easy to use and lasting.

However, TFAs have no nutrition benefit for consumers. Quite the contrary, trans-fats have been proven to increase risks of heart disease and stroke by raising bad cholesterol and lowering the good one2. Although TFA amounts have plummeted in many products, they are still hidden in many across the EU, hence the need for bold action.

Notes

  1. UFC-Que Choisir in Le Monde, 2007; Test-Achats article, 2012; Which? article, 2012.
  2. EFSA Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fats, including saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, and cholesterol. EFSA 2010.

 

For further information:

See our position paper ‘The consumer case for EU legal restrictions on the use of artificial trans-fats in food’, Feb 2014