Trans fat in food

Trans fat in food

Trans fat

Trans fat or trans fats are also called trans fatty acids. Trans fats are a particular type of unsaturated fatty acids. In Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 trans fat is defined as "fatty acids with at least one non-conjugated (namely interrupted by at least one methylene group) carbon-carbon double bond in the trans configuration." Some trans fats are produced industrially. The primary dietary source of industrial trans fats is partially hydrogenated oils. Partially hydrogenated oils generally contain saturated and unsaturated fats, among them trans fats in variable proportions (with trans fats ranging from a few up to more than 50%), according to the production technology used. Trans fats can also be naturally present in food products derived from ruminant animals such as dairy products or meat from cattle, sheep or goat.

On 24 April 2019, the Commission adopted a Commission Regulation amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards trans fat, other than trans fat naturally occurring in fat of animal origin.

Main elements of the Regulation:

  • A maximum limit of trans fat, other than trans fat naturally occurring in fat of animal origin, in food which is intended for the final consumer and food intended for supply to retail, of 2 grams per 100 grams of fat
  • Definitions of "fat" and of "'trans fat" in line with the definitions in Annex I to Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011
  • Definition of "retail" in line with Article3(7) of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002
  • An obligation for business to business transmission of information on the amount of trans fat in foods when it exceeds the limit of 2% of fat
  • Food which does not comply may continue to be placed on the market until 1 April 2021

Further information

Background

On 3 December 2015, the Commission adopted a report to the European Parliament and the Council regarding trans fats in foods and in the overall diet of the Union population.

The Joint Research Centre has provided input to this report through a series of studies on the presence of trans fats in the foods and diets of the EU population, as well as on the possible impacts of different policy options aiming to reduce the trans fats intake in the EU. The report Trans fatty acids in Europe: where do we stand?' identifies and summarises the available data on the content of TFA in foods and on dietary intake of TFA intake in Europe.

  • The Commission report is accompanied by a Commission Staff Working Document – Results of the Commission's consultations on 'trans fatty acids in foodstuffs in Europe – which provides detailed information underpinning the findings of the Commission report.