Which? has welcomed news that Sainsbury’s supermarket is to cut dangerous trans fats from its own food and drinks by nexxt January.
The move by follows repeated calls from Which? to axe trans fats following scientific warnings which linked them to increased cholesterol levels and a greater risk of coronary heart disease.
In 2004, we revealed how trans fats were present at shocking levels in many processed foods and called for them to be removed from products.
Marks & Spencer has already stopped using hydrogenated vegetable fats – which can contain trans fats – in its food production.Tesco says it is ‘working hard’ to remove hydrogenated fat from its own-brand products by the end of this year.
Sainsbury’s will have phased out trans fats from all 15,000 own-brand lines by the start of January.At the same time artificial flavour enhancers will also be removed from all Sainsbury’s own brand food and drink.
In our 2004 research, we found a Sainsbury’s puff pastry minced beef and onion pie contained 1.8g of trans fat while three Tesco wheat and gluten free toffee fudge shortbread contained 2.5g. But just one gram of trans fat eaten daily can significantly increase the risk of heart disease.
Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in dairy products and meat, but they’re also formed artificially when manufacturers hydrogenate liquid vegetable fat or oil. Hydrogenation turns the fat solid, altering the texture of food, and also extends food shelf life.
Sainsbury’s brand director Judith Batchelar said: ‘Given the scale, this has been a big challenge for us but we have kept sight of how important it is to our customers and are pleased to name our deadline.’
A Tesco spokesperson said: ‘It [trans fat] has already been removed from the vast majority of own brand foods, for example, there is no hydrogenated fat in our Healthy Living range, our Kids range, our ready meals or any of our chilled range.’
Which? Principal Researcher Julie Lennard said: ‘It’s really good news that supermarkets have finally listened to consumer concerns and axed trans fats from their own brand foods.
‘It is irresponsible of food manufacturers to include ingredients in processed foods that have no nutritional value and can only do you harm. We would like to see all manufacturers eliminate artificial trans fats from their foods and, in the meantime, foods containing trans fats should be clearly labelled as such.’