WHO wants trans fats (those in snacks, biscuits and pastries) out of the world

The World Health Organization (WHO) wants an end to the use of trans fats. The ingredient that is used in snacks, biscuits and pastries, for example, will disappear from the food supply worldwide if it is up to the WHO in the next five years. The health organization of the United Nations comes today with a plan to help governments.

Trans fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. They are used in the hardening of vegetable oils, for example when making margarine. Food producers use trans fats to improve the taste and shelf life of food products.


According to the WHO, the eating of trans fats leads to 500,000 deaths every year worldwide. With the campaign, the health organization focuses mainly on less prosperous countries. It is well possible to ban it within five years, says the WHO, because trans fats can easily be replaced. Denmark banned fifteen years ago. Since then more than forty other prosperous countries have been working on the removal of trans fats from the food supply.

In 2015, the American food watchdog FDA called on the food industry to stop selling food with trans fats, as of 18 June. Until now, the FDA has not said anything about the progress of the plan, and whether it will be maintained. In New York, restaurants have been prohibited from serving food with trans fats since 2006.


The WHO uses as standard that up to 1 percent of the daily intake of carbohydrates from trans fats is: for men a maximum of 3 grams and for women a maximum of 2 grams. In the Netherlands we eat about one to one and a half grams of trans fats a day, says a spokesperson for the Nutrition Center. “That's because the industry has been working here for years on reducing trans fats.”

According to nutritionist Samefko Ludidi, associated with the Hoge Hotelschool Maastricht, the effect of a ban on trans fats is difficult to measure. “A ban is in line with the trend of healthier eating, and now there is a lot of emphasis on reducing carbohydrates and saturated fats, but there is also a lot to be gained in moderating processed foods in general.” In addition to trans- and saturated fats also contain a lot of salt and sugar. “