McDonald’s among 11 in trans fats phase-out pledge

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

McDonald's iconic Big Mac has 1.5g of trans fat but will have this reduced by 2018
McDonald's iconic Big Mac has 1.5g of trans fat but will have this reduced by 2018

Related tags: Nutrition, Beef, Lamb, Pork

Eleven of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, including fast-food chain McDonald’s, have pledged to reduce industrially produced trans fats globally within the next two years.

Members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) have taken a massive step towards reducing fat levels in their food products by adopting a worldwide commitment to phase out industrially produced trans fatty acids (TFAs) by 2018.

Meat-producing giant McDonald’s and, to a lesser degree Nestlé and General Mills – who produce meat-based ready meals and meat snacks respectively – are among a host of businesses to agree a global objective to cut TFAs.

IFBA members

  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Ferrero
  • General Mills
  • Grupo Bimbo
  • Kellogg
  • Mars
  • McDonald’s
  • Mondelēz International
  • Nestlé
  • PepsiCo
  • Unilever

Pledge to WHO

This pledge reinforces a commitment IFBA members made to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008 to reformulate products in a bid to improve global diets. IFBA was founded in 2008, and the commitment underpins its underlying ethos to support the WHO’s 2004 Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health action plan.
Reducing the intake of industrial trans fats to nutritionally insignificant levels has been identified as a priority in public health nutrition,​” said Rocco Renaldi, IFBA secretary-general, commenting on the new commitment on Tuesday 17 May.

The commitment by IFBA member companies to achieve this globally over the next two-and-a-half years supports this objective. We stand ready to support the broader industry to achieve the same and to work to define effective measures to ensure a level playing field in this area.​”

All members of the IFBA have signed up to a global plan to reduce TFAs to “nutritionally insignificant levels​” by the end of 2018 at the latest. IFBA deems this level to be less than 1 gram (g) of trans fat per 100g of product.

Members believe this target can be achieved by replacing partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) with non-PHO solutions that also help trace TFA amounts in the food supply chains of all IFBA members.

Commenting on Nestlé's trans fats policy, a company spokesperson said: "Nestlé has being working diligently to remove trans fats originating from PHOs from our products. By collaborating with suppliers and technical teams, we have carried out science-based product renovation, without compromising on taste, quality or appearance. We are on track to achieve our objective.​" 

What are trans fats?

Trans fats are artificial fats which are formed when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation which causes the oil to harden, according to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).  Artificial trans fats can be found in a range of processed foods and help increase a product’s shelf life.  Trans fats are also present in some meat products. A high trans fats diet can lead to heart disease, heart attack or a strokes. This is why food manufactures have made efforts to reduce the use of trans fats in their products.

Related topics: Meat

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