Artificial trans fat in popular foods in 2012 and in 2014: a market basket investigation in six European countries

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Objective: To minimise the intake of industrially produced trans fat (I-TF) and thereby decrease the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), nearly all European countries rely on food producers to voluntarily reduce the I-TF content in food. The objective of this study was to monitor the change in presence of I-TF in biscuits/cakes/wafers in six countries in South-eastern Europe from 2012 to 2014, including two members of the European Union (Slovenia and Croatia).

Design: Three large supermarkets were visited in each of the six capitals in 2012. Pre-packaged biscuits/cakes/wafers were bought if the products contained more than 15 g of total fat per 100 g of product and if partially hydrogenated oil or a similar term was disclosed at the beginning of the ingredients list. These same supermarkets were revisited in 2014 and the same collection procedure was followed. All foods were subsequently analysed for total fat and trans fat in the same laboratory.

Results: The number of packages bought in the six countries taken together was 266 in 2012 and 643 in 2014. Some were identical, and therefore only 226 were analysed in 2012 and 434 in 2014. Packages with less than 2% of fat from I-TF went up from 69 to 235, while products with more than 2% (illegal in Denmark) doubled from an average of 33 to an average of 68 products for the six countries, with considerable variation across countries. The per cent of I-TF in total fat decreased slightly, from a mean (SD) of 22 (13) in 2012 to 18 (9) in 2014.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that voluntary reduction of I-TF in foods with high amounts is an ineffective strategy in several European countries. Alternative strategies both within and outside the European Union are necessary to protect all subgroups of the populations against an increased risk of CHD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere010673
JournalB M J Open
Issue number3
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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