In 2005, the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that every individual’s consumption of TFA should be “as low as possible,” below 1% of total energy intake [7
]. This level of consumption could be achieved on a population level by removal of TFA from foods, or on an individual level by strict avoidance by consumers of foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils.
As of Dec 12, 2005, in Canada [49
], and Jan 1, 2006, in the US [50
], nutrition labels for all conventional foods and supplements were required to list the content of TFA. Foods with less than 0.5 g (0.2 g in Canada) of TFA per serving can be listed as having zero content. These labeling changes, together with publicity surrounding harmful effects of TFA [51
], prompted some food manufacturers to reformulate their products to reduce or eliminate TFA; for example, Kraft reformulated most of their brands, including Oreo cookies, to eliminate TFA [52
]. Thus, at least in the U.S. and Canada, many manufactured foods are being reformulated to reduce TFA, and those that still contain TFA have mandatory labels so that consumers can identify TFA content. In contrast, food labeling is not mandatory in food service establishments, including foods served at restaurants, fast food chains, coffee and donut shops, grocery stores, bakeries, schools, workplace cafeterias, and other retail food outlets. Consequently, at these sites, labeling is not to present to facilitate avoidance of TFA by consumers, and recognition of which foods contain TFA would be very difficult without detailed personal knowledge of the types of fats and oils used in food preparation at each site. Thus, following the lead of Denmark [53
] and New York City [54
], many other countries and US cities, counties, and states are considering or have passed legislation to reduce the use of TFA (partially hydrogenated oils) in food service establishments. For example, in New York City, food service establishments can no longer fry with fats that contain more than 0.5 g of TFA per serving (as of July 1st
, 2007) or serve foods that contain more than 0.5 g of TFA per serving (as of July 1st
, 2008). In New York, premanufactured foods with food labels are exempt from this legislation, as such food labels allow informed choice by the consumer regarding the consumption of TFA.
From a nutritional standpoint, TFA have no intrinsic health value, whereas based on their lipid and non lipid adverse effects and their strong relationship with clinical CHD events, TFA are likely to have substantial adverse effects on health. Because industrially-produced TFA (i.e., partially hydrogenated oils) represent an additive to food that have no health benefit and substantial potential risk, there is no compelling reason to continue their use in foods. Theoretical concerns have been raised about sufficient supply of healthy alternatives to replace partially hydrogenated oils, but such concerns have not been borne out in experiences in Denmark or NYC [55
]. Indeed, a nationwide survey of recent product reformulations to reduce TFA in Canada demonstrated that, in nearly all cases, manufacturers are taking advantage of the up-front cost and effort of reformulation to not only eliminate TFA but also increase the content of cis
unsaturated fats [49
What type of alternative fats/oils are optimal to replace partially hydrogenated vegetable oils? For frying applications, many choices are available, including cottonseed, soybean, canola and high oleic sunflower oil [54
]. For many baking applications, liquid vegetable oils (e.g., soybean) can also be used. However, some particular products (e.g., donuts) can require solid or semi-solid fats to maintain product consistency and feel. Choices of solid or semi-solid fats include tropical oils (e.g., palm or coconut), butter, lard, fully hydrogenated vegetable oil, and blends or interesterified oil. In an analysis evaluating (a) effects of TFA and other fats on CVD risk factors in RCTs, and (b) relationships of TFA and other fats with clinical CHD endpoints in prospective studies, replacement of 7.5% of energy from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (containing 35% TFA or more) with any of the alternatives examined, including nonhydrogenated vegetable oils, tropical oils, butter, and lard, would result in decreased CHD risk [18
]. The magnitude of the benefit was greatest when partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were replaced by nonhydrogenated vegetable oils (highest in unsaturated fats), intermediate for tropical oils or lard, and smallest – but not negligible – for butter.