New EU regulation sets strict limitations on added trans fats content in foods

By Nicolas Carbonnelle

04-2019

As of 1 April 2021, per a regulation that the European Commission adopted on 24 April 2019 and that is yet to be published in the Official Journal, no food intended for the final consumer or for supply to retail will be allowed to be placed on the market where its content of trans fat, other than trans fat naturally occurring in fat of animal origin exceeds 2 grams per 100 grams of fat.

Trans fat is defined as "fatty acids with at least one non-conjugated (namely interrupted by at least one methylene group) carbon-carbon double bond in the trans configuration" under Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011.

The new requirement to have a low trans fat content in foods stems from an evaluation that has been performed over the last years regarding the impact of trans fatty acids on health. In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that the intake of trans fatty acids should be as low as possible within the context of a nutritionally adequate diet. A report adopted by the European Commission late 2015 concluded that establishing a legal limit for industrial trans fats in food appeared to be the most effective measure in terms of public health, consumer protection and compatibility with the internal market. In parallel to the evaluations performed at EU level, the World Health Organisation also issued a call for the elimination of industrially-produced trans fatty acids from global food supply.

Given that transfat has been found to have harmful effects on health, the limit of 2 grams of trans fat per 100 grams of fat it will, by means of the adopted Commission regulation, be included in Part B to Annex III of Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the addition of vitamins and minerals and of certain other substances to foods, that lists the substances whose use in foods is restricted and sets out the conditions under which the use of the listed substances is allowed in foods.

In order to allow food business operators ('FBOs') to adapt to the new requirements, food products subject to the 2 gram of added transfat per 100 gram of fat limit may continue to be placed on the market until 1 April 2021.

The adopted regulation further provides for a duty of information along the supply chain, to facilitate the application of the new requirements. More specifically, FBOs supplying other FBOs with food that is not intended for the final consumer or for supply to retail, will have the duty to ensure that supplied FBOs are provided with information on the amount of trans fat, other than trans fat naturally occurring in fat of animal origin, where that amount exceeds 2 grams per 100 grams of fat.

While 2021 may seem far away, it is already time now for the concerned FBOs to plan and implement any required changes in supply, procurement and product formulation.