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Monitoring of trans fatty acids

(December 2017)

Several pieces of work looking at the levels of trans fatty acids (TFAs) in Australia and New Zealand have been completed. This work is detailed below.

Levels of TFAs in imported oils

In November 2017 FSANZ and New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) provided a report to ministers responsible for food regulation on the level of TFAs in imported oils.

The report includes the findings of a detailed assessment of:

  • import statistics for vegetable fats and oils including those with potential to contain manufactured TFAs
  • a supermarket and online retail survey of TFA levels specified on product labels; and
  • an industry survey of importers of fats and oils to gather information on product specifications including TFA content.

The key conclusions of the assessment are that:

  • in recent years there has been a significant decline in the importation of vegetable fats and oils with potential to contain TFAs into Australia and New Zealand
  • reported levels of TFAs from product labels and industry product specifications indicate that levels are consistent with results from recent analytical surveys from 2006 – 2013
  • analytical survey activity from 2006 – 2013 and the current assessment of imported fats and oils indicate that dietary intakes of TFAs have continued to reduce over time
  • further analytical survey work for imported fats and oils does not appear warranted at this point in time.

Read Assessment of Trans Fatty Acids in Imported Oils (pdf 741kb) | (word 238kb)

Evaluation of labelling review recommendation on TFAs

In December 2014 FSANZ completed an evaluation of a labelling review recommendation on TFAs and provided advice to ministers responsible for food regulation. Ministers considered the advice at a meeting on 30 January 2015.

FSANZ’s advice to ministers was informed, in part, by the results of a survey of TFAs in Australian and New Zealand food. The survey results are consistent with previous survey results that, combined with dietary modelling, show exposure to TFAs is well below World Health Organization limits of no more than 1 per cent of dietary energy intake.

FSANZ also conducted an industry survey to review the progress of voluntary initiatives by industry to reduce TFAs in food. The industry survey showed industry is generally actively maintaining a low TFA content in their foods and that further work is continuing in this area.

Scientific reports on TFAs were also completed as part of FSANZ's work on this recommendation.

Read about FSANZ’s advice and the ministers’ response including supporting documents and scientific reviews.

2009 review of non-regulatory measures to reduce TFAs

In 2009 FSANZ reviewed the outcome of non-regulatory measures to reduce TFAs in the food supply, including the work of a Roundtable on Trans Fats in Quick Service Restaurants. The 2009 review found that intakes of TFAs from manufactured sources had decreased in Australia and New Zealand by around 25 to 45 per cent since 2007, reflecting changes in industry practice. This decline is equivalent to around 0.1 per cent of total energy intake.

The 2009 review found that Australians obtain on average 0.5 per cent of their daily energy intake from TFAs and New Zealanders on average 0.6 per cent. It was also found that naturally occurring TFAs from animal products contribute around 60 to 75 per cent of TFA intake.

Read the 2009 review of TFAs

As a result of these findings, in October 2009 ministers agreed that the non-regulatory approach should continue. Due to the success of voluntary industry initiatives to reduce TFAs in foods the Collaboration and Roundtable are no longer active.

2007 review of TFAs in the food supply

FSANZ completed a review of TFAs in the food supply and reported findings to the ministers responsible for food regulation.

FSANZ found that the contributions of TFAs to energy intakes of Australians and New Zealanders was below the goal of 1 per cent of total energy intake proposed by the WHO, and comparable to, or lower than, intake estimates from other countries.

Ministers endorsed the findings of FSANZ’s 2007 review that new laws were not required and that non-regulatory measures to further reduce the levels of TFAs in the Australian and New Zealand food supply were appropriate.

Read the 2007 review of TFAs

Two voluntary initiatives were established in 2006‒2007 to support the reduction of manufactured TFAs in the food supply: the Australia New Zealand Collaboration on Trans Fats and the Roundtable on Trans Fats in Quick Service Restaurants.

The Collaboration included representatives from government, public health and industry bodies. It worked on reducing the amount of TFAs in the food supply, without increasing the amount of saturated fat. The group also promoted industry and public health initiatives to reduce TFAs and worked on increasing consumer awareness and understanding about TFAs. The broad aim of the Roundtable was to minimise the use of TFAs in quick service meals.



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