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NICE recommends trans fat ban

On June 22 2010 the UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) published its Prevention of cardiovascular disease at population level, which advices, among other measures, a ban on industrially produced trans fatty acids.

This is an important development, and one which may now make a trans fat ban in the UK inevitable. Simply put, it hard for a Government to go against the advice of NICE, without some very good reason for doing so. And in this case, there are no such reasons, good or otherwise.

This in turns follows from the advice of the UK Faculty of Public Health and Royal Society for Public Health, published in the BMJ in April 2010.

This does of course raise one big question: where is the Food Standards Agency? The FSA has consistently opposed any ban on trans fats, on pretty unconvincing grounds. The fact that NICE has gone out on its own on this topic, disregarding the FSA, is an indication that the 'public health establishment' is now, in effect, at war with the conservative and outdated 'food and diet establishment' on this issue.

Key quotes from the NICE document ...

Recommendation 3 - Trans fats

Industrially-produced trans fatty acids (IPTFAs) constitute a significant health hazard. In recent years many manufacturers and caterers, with the encouragement of the Food Standards Agency and other organisations, have considerably reduced the amount of IPTFAs in their products. However, certain sections of the population may be consuming a substantially higher amount of IPTFAs than average (for instance, those who regularly eat fried fast-food). It is important to protect all social groups from the adverse effects of IPTFAs.

In some countries and regions (for instance, Denmark, Austria and New York), IPTFAs have been successfully banned. A study for the European Parliament recently recommended that it, too, should consider an EU-wide ban. In the meantime, some large UK caterers, retailers and producers have removed IPTFAs from their products.

Policy goal

Ensure all groups in the population are protected from the harmful effects of IPTFAs. To achieve this, the evidence suggests that the following are among the measures that should be considered.

What action should be taken?


3 Considerations

The Programme Development Group (PDG) took account of a number of factors and issues when developing the recommendations.



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