Dairy body claims natural trans fats not harmful

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Trans fatty acids, Nutrition

The European dairy industry says it is confident that there is
significant research to back it claims that naturally occurring
trans fatty acids (TFA) in milk pose no health concerns to
consumers and do not need to be labelled on products.

The comments followed last week's TFA Policy Conference, which was held by the European Dairy Association (EDA) to debate whether there are sufficient nutritional differences between industrially formed and naturally occurring trans fats. Providing sufficient proof could be vital to the industry in its attempts to prevent having to label the presence of TFAs on their products, which are increasingly unpopular amongst consumers and manufacturer. Industrially produced trans fats, formed during the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oil that converts the oil into semi-solids for a variety of food applications, have been linked to a number of health problems in research. Trace amounts of TFAs are also found naturally, in dairy and meats, due to the rumen in milks, though the EDA said that scientific evidence had been inconclusive as to their health impacts in relation to the industrially formed variety. However, Dr. Joop Kleibeuker of the EDA told DairyReporter.com that there was as yet no peer reviewed studies to suggest that these naturally occurring TFAs had similar negative impacts on health. He added to the contrary, that various findings from recent intervention and epidemiological studies found that that there appeared to be no negative health affects of naturally occurring TFAs present in dairy goods. "The intervention study found no negative effects from natural TFAs on relevant health markers such asLDL(known as bad cholesterol),"​ Kleibeuker stated. The latest conference concerning TFA is the second time that the industry has met to discuss the health and labelling implications of their presence in foods, following a previous meeting held two and a half years ago. Kleibeuker said that the industry was convinced during this initial meeting that naturally present TFAs did not pose the same proposed health risks as the industrial variety, though claimed that there was no evidence to support its views. As a result, delegates agreed to meet up at a further date when there was more scientific data available, which led to last week's second fatty acid policy conference being held. Following the meeting, which the EDA said was designed to fully debate all sides of the argument, Kleibeuker claimed that there is compelling support for not having to label natural TFAs as part of any nutrition profiling system. "We are very confident there is a real difference between the impacts of consuming naturally occurring and industrially produced TFAs,"​ he stated. "The EDA will now look to start discussions with the European parliament at national level on the conclusions of the conference."​ The claims are likely to come under intense scrutiny from bodies like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is looking to crack down on health labelling on foods. However, Kleibeuker added that he would welcome further studies and scrutiny on naturally occurring TFAs in order to gain a full understanding of their impacts on health. "There are indications that some trans fatty acids may have positive health affects," he claimed However, Kleibeuker accepted that further international research would be required before any such claims could be supported.

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