Trans Fats Health Concerns Renewed

Posted by Isobel Drake on 20th June 2008

Recent research conducted at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil into the adverse effects of trans fats on our health, has shown that these can be passed from mother to child through the breast milk, renewing demands for trans fats to be banned.

Trans fats are attractive for the food industry due to their extended shelf life and flavour stability, and have displaced natural solid fats and liquid oils in many areas of food processing. While further studies are required to verify the results, it is clear that the study may put more pressure on the food industry to reformulate and remove trans fats from products.

Andrew Benefield, Managing Director of the Mrs Fields Gourmet Cookie chain said that they have been aware of the trans fat issue and made a clear decision early on, not to use anything with trans-isomer fatty acid (trans fats) in it. “Trans fats have been linked to increase the risk of cardio vascular diseases (CDV) and coronary heart disease (CHD) due to its reducing effects on the HDL [good] cholesterol and increasing the LDL [bad] cholesterol levels,” Mr Benefield explained. “We have always been focused on keeping our cookies and treats natural, keeping them free of artificial colours, additives, preservatives and of course, trans fats.”

Health authorities worldwide recommend that consumption of trans fats be reduced to trace amounts. Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are more deleterious than naturally occurring oils – leading to the ban of trans fats in New York State and cities such as Boston and Chicago.

Trans-fat oils have been under fire by health groups in recent years due to their ability to increase low-density lipoprotein (known as ‘bad cholesterol’), which are believed to clog up arteries. Fast-food outlets around the world are now beginning to bow to pressure to rid their food of trans-fats; with McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Wendy’s among the growing list of companies to commit to using trans-fat free oils (in their US stores).