Interview with specialist over industrially-produced trans fatty acids and danger to people's health

Over 50,000 deaths are recorded annually in Europe, due to the consumption of harmful fats. Thus, a new European regulation setting a legal limit for industrially-produced trans fatty acids (iTFA) came into force on 14 May.

A high intake of iTFA increases the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the European Union.

This limit on their use will protect the consumer and benefit public health throughout the EU.

Biscuits, cakes, donuts, industrial pastries, fried foods of all types… There is no getting away from it, as these products are liked by consumers.

However, some of them may contain high amounts of iTFA, introduced during food manufacturing and the intake of iTFA is to be kept to a minimum.

Trans fatty acids are a particular type of unsaturated fatty acids.

These occur also naturally in low amounts in food products made from ruminant animals such as dairy and meat from cow, goat or sheep.

But the matter of concern are trans fatty acids produced industrially, which can be formed in much higher amounts when vegetable oils are processed into solid fats for better functionality, stability and shelf life by certain industrial processes, writes European Commission.

Food which does not comply with the European regulation may continue to be placed on the market until 1 April 2021.

In order to better understand these dangerous fats for health, and if the Republic of Moldova will comply with this, we have interviewed Stela Bradu, a doctor, section of Nutrition Health and children in National Agency for Public Health.

Why are iTFA used in food?

iTFA are widely used by food processors around the world because they make products more appealing, even after a long time, and extend their shelf life substantially.

What food can we find these iTFA ?

The foods you find iTFA fat are the following: margarine, bakery fats, biscuits, cakes, pies, pastries, dough, frozen pizzas. We also find them in various assortments of dairy products, where animal fats are replaced with vegetable fats, snacks (potato chips, tortilla snacks, microwave popcorn), coffee creamer, soup, frozen food, thus enhancing the flavor, improving the appearance, etc.

How dangerous are trans fatty acids for people's health and what diseases can occur from their consumption?

Due to the increased consumption of trans fatty-acid foods in several National Research and Development Institutes in different countries, after years of research it has been found that various diseases such as obesity, diabetes or cancer may occur.

Cookies, cakes, home-made fast food products are just as dangerous? How should be cooked or what ingredients people should avoid while cooking?

In households, lately, housewives use frozen dough for pastry products, usually dough prepared in food industry or use margarine, dairy products with the names of "dairy products" such as butter, cream, fresh cheese cows, etc. where animal fat is replaced by hydrogenated fats (containing trans fatty acids up to 99.9%).

To prepare and consume a healthy product requires the use of ingredients without the addition of hydrogenated fats, which usually appear on the label of commercially procured products. These pastries should be baked and not roasted, consumed in reasonable quantities with respect to the diets indicated by doctors (for those suffering from various diseases). People should consume food without having to abuse them.

How much are you using trans fatty acids in our country's food industry?

In the national kitchen, we often use vegetable fats. As mentioned above, they are used in the preparation of products to extend their shelf life. 

Is there a norm in our country for the use of these artificial fats?

Legislation in force provides for the normalization of saturated fatty acids up to 20 grams per day.

Do you have any suggestions for a healthy habit?

Breakfast is essential for a healthy diet;

Daily consumption of vegetables and fruits;

Choose food from local source;

Consume low-fat foods;

Avoid sugars;

Includes nutritious food;

Limit salt consumption;

Fresh foods against processed foods;

Drink as much water as possible.



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