From today, foods containing more than a trace of industrially produced trans fats can no longer be placed on the EU market. This makes the EU nearly industrial trans fats free (maximum allowed – 2 grams per 100 grams of fat), crowning years of consorted action towards this aim.
Trans fats pose a significant harm to health, especially in increasing the risk of heart disease, a leading cause of death for Europeans. It has been estimated that for every extra gram of trans fatty acids consumed per day, the risk of heart attack or heart disease is increased by about 5%. While the evidence was there to have these rules in place earlier, it still comes in time to align with the WHO’s call to eliminate industrial trans fats from the global food supply by 2023. But good legislation is not the end of the story. EPHA calls on national governments to ensure compliance with these rules and the European Commission to continue monitoring the situation and to timely resort to compliance proceedings, if required. Also, the replacement of trans fats should be monitored, given the considerable risk of increasing demand for palm oil, thereby endangering environmental health dimensions.
This legislation offers a spectacular display of EU added value. In the period between 2003 to 2019, seven EU and EEA countries introduced legal limits on trans fats in food. Today, because the EU has stepped up, people across 27 countries will in one go benefit from this protection. It’s an important stimulus when thinking about Europe’s role and engagement in the move towards sustainable food systems.