Israel to impose trans fat labels?

- Last updated on GMT

Opportunities continue to open up for trans fat alternatives as
Israel communicates plans to become the world's third country to
impose labelling rules on artery-clogging trans fats.

Reports in the Israeli press this week suggest there are government policies afoot to specify trans fatty acids on ingredients label.

A trans fatty acid, commonly shortened to trans fat, is an unsaturated fatty acid molecule that contains a trans double bond.

Though trace amounts of trans fats are found naturally, in dairy and meats, the vast majority are formed during the manufacture of processed foods.

Trans fat from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, that extend shelf life and flavour stability, has displaced natural solid fats and liquid oils in many areas of food processing.

But mounting evidence suggests the TFAs raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, causing the arteries to become more rigid and clogged. An increase in LDL cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease.

In 2003 Denmark became the first country in the world to introduce restrictions on the use of industrially produced trans fatty acids. Oils and fat are now forbidden on the Danish market if they contain trans fatty acids exceeding 2 per cent, a move which effectively bans partially hydrogenated oils.

Following to a lesser extent, from 1 January 2006 food manufacturers operating in the US will have to list trans fat on the nutrition label.

Leading ingredients firms have already launched a raft of oils to target the growing 'trans free' market, aimed at food maker's looking to slice TFAs out of their formulations.

Earlier this month Germany's Bayer CropScience announced an agreement with private agro firm Cargill to bring a high oleic rapeseed oil, that will not require hydrogenation, to market by 2007.

They join firms Dow AgroSciences, Bunge, ADM and DuPont that have all launched their various brands of zero or low trans oil, in the battle for market share as food makers undergo the investment in new technologies and new oil ingredients.

According to an article in the Jerusalem Post​ this week the country's health ministry announced plans to follow in the footsteps of the US and Denmark.

The ministry is reported as saying it will give manufacturers and importers two years to label TFAs, before the change becomes binding. Although tougher rules are ultimately on the way.

" In the longer term, the ministry intends to prohibit the manufacture of food products with trans fatty acids,"​ the Israeli daily reports.

Related topics: Policy, Fats & oils

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