SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 163/15
Latvia has released a draft regulation proposing to limit the presence of trans fatty acids in foodstuffs on the national market, by means of setting maximum permissible limits.
The driver for this is high incidence of morbidity and mortality related to cardiovascular diseases, and an increase in the number of children and adults who are overweight or obese. According to the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC), the most common cause of death in Latvia during 2012 was cardiovascular disease (54.9 % of all causes of death).
It might be worth noting that the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015-2020, published by the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe, includes a strategy to ‘Promote, through government leadership, product reformulation and improvements to the nutritional quality of the food supply’. More specifically, to ‘Develop and implement national policies to ban or virtually eliminate trans fats from the food supply’.
Maximum levels for trans fatty acids are already in place in a number of countries. In addition, Austria has set out additional requirements for trans fatty acid limits in low-fat foodstuffs.
The European Commission notification for this draft regulation  applies to foodstuffs which are either produced in Latvia, or imported from other EU Member States and third countries, and intended to be placed on the Latvian market. It also applies to foodstuffs provided in public catering establishments,
It is recognised that some trans fatty acids occur naturally. However, this legislation is aimed at industrially produced trans fatty acids created as a result food manufacturing processes, such as the:
- Hydrogenation of oils
- Extraction of oils at high temperatures
- Frying and heating of foodstuffs in oils
- Frying and grilling of fatty foodstuffs
According to the draft regulation, there are three maximum permissible levels of industrially produced trans fatty acids in foodstuffs:
1. The main limit that may not be exceeded is 2g of trans fat per 100g of total fat content. When applied to the food, this equates to, this equates to 0.42% trans fatty acid in a product that contains 21% total fat
2. For low-fat foodstuffs, where the total fat content is less than 3%, the limit is 10g trans fat per 100g of the total fat content. This amounts to 0.3% in a foodstuff with 2.99% total fat.
3. Other foodstuffs, where the total fat content is between 3 % and 20 %, the limit is 4g trans fat per 100g of the total fat content. This equates to 0.12 and 0.8% in foods of 3% and 20% total fat, respectively.
Several major food manufacturers have already removed or reduced trans fats and many have ongoing strategies to do so without legislation in the countries.
Currently, this regulation is proposed to come into effect on 1 January 2016. However, existing foodstuffs with trans fatty acids exceeding the maximum levels will be permitted on the Latvian market until 1 January 2018.
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