Alliance launches moves against dangerous trans fats in food

Antrim Alliance Councillor Alan Lawther has launched a campaign to underline the health dangers of trans fats and has called for progress towards an eventual ban on their use in foodstuffs. He stated that research has found that the consumption of trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease tenfold.

Cllr Alan Lawther said: “I became aware of the dangers posed by trans-fats while looking at a food label from the USA.

“Trans fats are made by taking natural oils and fats and hardening them in an industrial process. This creates a cheap, neutral flavoured, melt in the mouth, fat with a long shelf life. To many food processors this sounds wonderful and trans fats are now used in thousands of everyday products such as biscuits, pies, chocolate, margarines, home bakeries and fast food. Unfortunately its continued consumption can have devastating effects on people’s health.

“The Harvard School of Public Health states that on their most conservative estimate replacing trans fats with natural unhydrogenated vegetable oils would prevent 30,000 premature coronary deaths. In Northern Ireland where coronary heart disease is a massive problem the figure here could be in the high hundreds.

“The Danish Nutrition Council states that an intake of trans fat gives 10 times the risk of developing coronary heart disease and may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Again, another major and increasing problem in Northern Ireland is type 2 diabetes.

“The World Health Organisation has provided 3 strategies to reduce heart disease and one of them involves substituting non hydrogenated unsaturated fats for saturated and trans fats – so they also recognise these dangers.

“The major supermarkets are to be greatly praised in this battle as I believe Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda and M&S, have already committed to removing hydrogenated vegetable oils from their own brand products.”

“Some progress has been made, but government should be aiming to ban trans fats from our food altogether. Denmark has already done this, so I don’t see why we can’t follow their lead. Until this move can be made, there must at least be clear labelling indicating the presence of trans fats in foodstuffs, so that people can have the choice of avoiding them to protect their health.”


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