MEPS call for faster action on trans fatty acids in foods

A meeting of the MEP Heart group in the European Parliament resulted in a call by participating MEPS for the European Commission to rapidly complete its obligations to bring forward proposals on industrial trans fatty acids. DG SANTE had promised to submit its plans by December 2014 and is understood to be ready to do so, but institutional changes and new internal processes on regulations within the EC have resulted in delays. A document is not now expected before June, which the MEPs want to speed up.

The meeting heard extensive evidence from Professor Steen Stender, the renowned expert and campaigner for legislation to limit the amounts of such processed fats in foods available to European consumers. He explained how legislation in Denmark has been effective, pointed out ‘’there is no beneficial effect of trans fatty acids on health’’ and demonstrated the potential risks of stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

EuroHealthNet policy Director Clive Needle says: ‘’DG SANTE has been tasked to assess the impacts, which it has clearly done, and to propose options for action. This harms health so doing nothing is not an option within EU Treaty rules, despite previous attempts to regulate labelling being rejected by states. Neither is labelling sufficient or most effective, as Professor Stender clearly showed. In cases like this legislation can be the fastest, most effective way to deal with a problem, as other options can be costly, require much greater health literacy to tackle inequalities, and have only limited health benefits. This is a clear example where the EU market is the appropriate and best level at which to act, as several states are waiting until it does. I hope the call by the MEPs to bring this forward will be heeded by the EC President Juncker and colleagues.’’

  • For more information on the work of the MEP Heart Group, click here.
  • Information from the European Heart Network is available here
  • Evidence from Professor Stender is available here 
  • The EU Joint Action tackling Chronic Diseases in which EuroHealthNet participates is available here.