Trans fats are edible however they are prepared artificially as these unsaturated fats are not found naturally in plants but are present in dairy and meat. When vegetable oils are hydrogenated they get transformed into trans fats. Trans fats are used in a number of foods but they are considered to be bad for heart health. They can raise the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and can lower the levels of good cholesterol (HDL).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 regularized the maximum limit of trans fat in partially hydrogenated oils and fats to 5 percent.
Can you claim your product ‘Trans Fat Free’?
Various processed foods use trans fats to enhance the taste and texture of foods. They are especially used in the food processing industry as they increase the shelf life of processed foods like breads, biscuits, cakes and cookies and fried snack foods. International standards have termed foods that use hydrogenated oils as unsafe for human consumption since they can have negative effects on human health. According to FSSAI regulations,all pre-packaged foods have to mention the level of trans-fat content on labels. Food Business Operators must ensure that trans-fat content does not cross the regulatory recommended limits.
FSSAI regulations state that trans-fat content has to be declared on the nutritional information label panel of food products so consumers can make an informed choice. The FSS (Packaging & Labeling) Regulations, 2011 also state that “no trans fat” can only be mentioned on the label if the value is less than 0.2g per serving of the food product.
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 entirely accurate as it has been observed 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 Labeling) 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.
Trans fat free labels
- 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 contain 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.
- Apparently, 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.
Our avant garde laboratories in pan India locations specialize in nutritional labeling analysis and claim validation as per compliance needs. We have been working with the food and hospitality industry for the past decade. We can help you by testing food products as per safety guidelines. We support you in your business to provide food products to consumers that only have recommended levels of trans fat to prevent any negative health effects on consumers. We do nutritional analysis as per FSSAI Compliance needs. We are well equipped to provide nutritional testing services for detection of trans fat levels. We have been working with the food and beverages industry on the complete range of food products and are helping them accommodate specific standards.
Remarkably, our laboratories are accredited by NABL and notified by FSSAI. We have teams of experienced professionals for the nutritional analysis of a wide range of food products like baked foods, soups, chocolates, toppings with shortening and margarine, snacks like namkeen. Our laboratories have the facility for detection and quantification of trans fats in all processed food products.
Please contact us today using the quick query form on the right or by calling us now on +91-11-45754575 to get your food samples tested for Trans Fats & Nutritional Labeling.