Trans Fats Down in Two-Thirds of Food Products

(HealthDay News) – Manufacturers have slowed in their reformulations of food products to reduce trans fatty acids (TFA), according to a study published online May 23 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Chronic Disease.

Fadar O. Otite, MD, DrPH, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues identified 360 brand-name products in major U.S. supermarkets that contained ≥0.5g TFA per serving. Product labels were examined for TFA content in 270 of these products in 2008, 2010, and 2011. In 2011, ingredients were also examined for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO).

The researchers found that, by 2011, 66% of the products had reduced TFA content. 82% of the reformulated products (146 of 178) reduced TFA to <0.5g per serving, although PHVO was still found in half of these 146 products. The mean TFA content decreased by 49% among all 270 products from 2007–2011. Over time, the mean TFA reduction slowed, from 30.3% in 2007–2008, to 12.1% in 2008–2010, and to 3.4% in 2010–2011 (P trend < 0.001). Fewer reformulations among TFA-containing products at the start of each period and smaller TFA reductions among reformulated products contributed to this slowing pace. Substantial variation was noted in reformulations by food category and manufacturer, with some eliminating or nearly eliminating TFA and others showing no significant changes.

“Because TFA consumption is harmful even at low levels, our results emphasize the need for continued efforts toward reformulating or discontinuing foods to eliminate PHVO,” write the authors.

One author disclosed financial ties to the nutrition industry and was listed as a co-inventor for use of trans-palmitoleic acid to prevent and treat insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and related conditions.

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