The Which? Survey on Trans Fats has found that high levels of these fats, which increase the risk of heart disease, are used in food production, particularly in meals available in fast food chains.
The survey also revealed that food labelling does not have to list trans fats and consumers are more likely to see it worded as hydrogenated vegetable oil on the ingredient list.
Commenting on the survey, the Food and Drink Federation said: “The food industry is fully committed to reducing the level of trans fats to as low as is technically possible and has been actively reducing these levels. In fact, the Government’s latest national diet and nutritional survey (NDNS) shows how the consumption of trans fats gas fallen from 2.1% of total energy in 1985 to 1.2% energy in 2000.”
As well as fast food, the survey also highlights products designed for health reasons such as Tesco’s wheat and gluten-free toffee fudge shortbread, which contained 2.5g of trans fat.
But many companies have been responding to the health and food debate and the issue of rising obesity in Britain by reducing levels of trans fat as well as salt and sugar. Birds Eye for example, does not use any added hydrogenated fat at all in its products. McVitie’s and Kraft have also reduced levels of trans fats in some of their products.
McVitie’s original mini cheddars and Nestle Cinammon Grahams cereal bars contain less than 1.5g of trans fats per portion. This compares to products such as Saxby’s fresh rolled short pastry, which contains 2.5g and Sainsbury’s puff pastry minced beef and onion pie with 1.8g of trans fats.