In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers at Oxford University found that an increase of as little as 2 per cent in the consumption of common foods containing trans fatty acids can lead to a 23 per cent increase in coronary heart disease.
Trans fats are added to improve taste, texture and shelf life of food and is added to most fast foods, confectionary, sandwich spreads, and to a range of baked supermarket goods.
The labeling of trans fatty acids was necessary only if the product made a nutritional claim such as being low in fat or cholesterol. Following this finding, the Australian Food Authority is now considering changing labeling rules for trans fatty acids if they are found to be a common ingredient in the Australian diet.
Lydia Buchtmann, from Food Standards Australia New Zealand, said "we're reviewing the trans fats in our diet at the moment as a matter of priority. For example, if trans fats are only in small food that's not eaten very often, we may not need to take any action whatsoever. If they are becoming far more prevalent in our diet, it's something we might need to look into."
An analysis last year by the Australian Consumers Association's Choice magazine showed 18 common foods including party pies and pasties had dangerously high levels of trans fats, some even higher than a McDonald's burger and fries.
The Director of the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, Professor Garry Jennings said, "there is no doubt that trans fats cause coronary disease and their presence in diet is unnecessary. It certainly seems that there would be no downside to eliminating them from our diet completely." He also added that trans fats should be identified in the label if not removed completely.