A meeting of food industry representatives in Sydney has come out with the decision to gradually phase out trans fats from their products. The move follows similar ones followed overseas by other food companies.
The industry in Australia is also coming under pressure from the federal government to deal with the issue, or else face regulatory requirements. This would force levels of trans fats in foods ,to be spelled out on nutrition information panels.
Trans-fats, made by dissolving hydrogen in oils to make them solidify, are widely used because they extend shelf life and improve texture.
However, they are thought to be even more damaging to health than saturated fats, because as well as raising levels of the dangerous LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, they also reduce levels of the good cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the consumption of trans fats be no more than 1 per cent of a person's daily kilojoule intake.
Federal assistant health minister Christopher Pyne welcomed today's agreement as "a major breakthrough".
"It is important when we reduce trans-fats in our food supply that we do it in the context of a balanced diet", Pyne opined.
According to Heart Foundation communications manager Monique Blunden, addressing the use of trans fats was important because of the amount of people who eat fast food every day.
"While we are certainly thrilled with the initiative Christopher Pyne has taken, we want to make sure that saturated fats are lowered as well," she said.
Companies including McDonald's, KFC, Krispy Kreme, Pizza Hut, Subway and Hungry Jack's attended the roundtable.