Trans fats are basically of two types, firstly those found naturally in dairy and meat products. Secondly, those that are industrially produced when liquid vegetable oils are partially hydrogenated by adding hydrogen atoms which turns them into semi-solid fats like vanaspati. Hydrogenated vegetable oils have a long shelf life so they are extensively used in a number of packaged foods, biscuits, snacks, baked foods, spreads, margarine and in fried foods.
Industrially produced trans fats are considered to be unhealthy as they tend to increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and other diseases. Studies show that trans fats increase blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease blood levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. To reduce the risk of these diseases the FSSAI has now regularised the maximum limit of trans fat in partially hydrogenated oils and fats to 5 percent.
Since trans fats are harmful to health it is mandatory to label them by type, the source (like mustard or groundnut oil) and the quantity in which they are found in the product food. A number of processed food manufacturers have eliminated or reduced the use of edible hydrogenated oils in their foods and so they display the words ‘Trans Fat-Free’ on their food label. However, it is possible that the ‘Trans Fat-Free’ label is not wholly accurate as many a time the trans fat content is based on raw ingredients rather than on the finished product. Therefore, there is a need to test the finished product in a food testing laboratory to ascertain whether the food product is actually trans fat-free.
According to the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2011
- A health claim of ‘trans fat-free’ may be made where the trans fat is less than 0.2g per serving of food.
- A claim ‘saturated fat-free’ may be made where the saturated fat does not exceed 0.1g per 100g or 100ml of food.
Health experts consider the ‘trans fat-free’ label to be misleading because consumers are unaware that even if the label says ‘trans fat-free’ it could contain up to 0.2g of trans fat per serving. If the consumer has three servings of that food in a day they would consume 0.6g of trans fat. Similarly if they also on the same day consumed various other foods that have the ‘trans fat-free’ label they would end up consuming a lot of unhealthy trans fat daily.
Most consumers overlook reading the full food label which also lists ingredients in descending order of quantity. It is mandatory to list edible hydrogenated or edible partially hydrogenated oil in the food labels so if these are listed it means the foods contains trans fat. If hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are listed early on the list and before polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils then the product contains lots of trans fat. If the label lists unsaturated or monounsaturated oils, olive oil, or canola oil first, the fats will be less harmful. Of course, a number of food manufacturers are trying their best to remain within the ‘Trans Fat-Free’ FSSAI criteria and are switching their use of partially hydrogenated edible oil to palm oil which is trans fat-free.
Arbro Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd has state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and well-trained technicians to carry out testing procedures with utmost accuracy. If you would like to use our testing services please feel free to contact us through the contact form or call us now on +91-11-45754575. We will be happy to provide you a proposal for your testing the trans fat content in processed and packaged foods.