Three large supermarkets in UK, namely Tesco, Sainsbury's, and Asda have decided to remove hydrogenated oil from their products.
The supermarkets have announced deadlines for removing hydrogenated oil, which is the main source of trans fats from all their products. It has been explained that trans fatty acid or trans fat are a major ingredient in diet that increases the risk of obesity and heart disease, and has also been linked to certain forms of cancer.
It was explained that these hydrogenated oils are used in several foods like cakes, pies, ice cream, and ready-made meals as a preservative to increase the shelf life.
Reports have stated that several other retailers will also be imposing the ban under pressure from experts who have been seeking a total ban on the use of these oils. The WHO has also been advising people to totally remove trans fats from their diets.
The use of trans fats has been so far allowed in the U.K unlike in many other countries. It was explained that heating vegetable oil to a very high temperature and turning it into solid form is the method for obtaining hydrogenated oils. Authorities at Sainsbury's have said that they have set January 2007 as the target by which they plan to totally remove hydrogenated vegetable oils from its entire range of own-brand's of food and drink. They also mentioned that they have already taken out several tons of the oil from its cakes.
Sources from Asda have too said that their food and drink products will be free of hydrogenated oil by the start of the next year, while authorities from Tesco have said that they aim to remove the oil from all of its own-brand products by the end of this year. It was also reported that the super stores Marks & Spencer have already stopped usage of the oil in all its products since March this year.
Experts have welcomed the decision in banning hydrogenated oil. Oliver Tickell, founder of the campaign group Tfx, said, "Trans fats are stealth killers lurking in our food, causing the early death and debility of many thousands of people a year in the UK. It's great news that retailers are finally waking up to their danger." While the expert on Food and behaviour from the Oxford University Dr Alex Richardson said, "I'm delighted to hear this. Trans fats are essentially toxic fats, they are damaging to both physical and mental health, and consumers haven't even known which foods they are in. Other governments have taken steps to take them out of the food supply and it is good to see Sainsbury's and Tesco taking the initiative."
It was also reported that Dr Richardson had further highlighted the risks of trans fats in her recent book, 'They Are What You Feed Them'. Maura Gillespie who heads the British Heart Foundation's department of policy and public affairs at the said, "One of the reasons that processed foods, particularly ready meals, tend to be bad for our heart health, is the large amounts of hydrogenated vegetable oils they often contain.
Let's hope other supermarkets and food manufacturers will follow suit."