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Atheroscler Suppl. 2006 May;7(2):47-52. Epub 2006 May 19.

A trans world journey.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Gentofte University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.


A high intake of industrially produced trans fatty acids (IP-TFA) is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), and a daily intake as low as possible is required to minimize health risks. To achieve this at the individual level in Denmark, legislation limited IP-TFA in foods to a maximum of 2% of fat content from 2004. We assessed the potential exposure of consumers to IP-TFA by analysing popular foods in Denmark, and in 25 other countries. Fifty-five servings of French fries and chicken nuggets, 87 packages of microwave popcorn, and 393 samples of biscuits/cakes/wafers with "partially hydrogenated vegetable fat" listed high on the food label were bought between November 2004 and February 2006. The content of IP-TFA was analysed by standardized methodology. We defined a "high trans menu" as a large size serving of French fries and nuggets, 100 g of microwave popcorn, and 100 g of biscuits/wafers/cakes. The amounts of IP-TFA in a "high trans menu" was 30 g in 2001 in Denmark, but was reduced to less than 1g in 2005. By contrast, a "high trans menu" provided more than 20 g in 17 out of 18 countries, with Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, and USA, ranking highest with 42, 40, 38, 37, and 36 g, respectively. The legislation in Denmark has reduced the exposure of IP-TFA at the individual level without noticeable effect on availability, price, and quality of foods previously containing high amounts of IP-TFA. The findings of high concentrations of IP-TFA in popular foods outside Denmark suggest that millions of people inside and outside EU have intakes of IP-TFA that may increase their risk of CHD. The Danish experience demonstrates that this risk can be eliminated.

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