The EC was due to produce a report on the use and labelling of trans-fatty acids in foods and its effect on Europeans’ diet and health by 13 December 2014, but Parliament is still waiting. Czech Socialist MEP Olga Sehnalová has been pressing the Commission for answers.
Sehnalová first demanded an explanation for the report’s delay in January and Commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said the Commission was in the process of finalising the report, pledging that the final version would be adopted submitted to the Parliament and Council in the months that followed.
When no report was forthcoming, Sehnalová pressed for further clarification and was told there had been no change to the state of play since then.
She asked: “Does the Commission believe that not complying with deadlines set in regulations is in keeping with the ‘better regulation’ principle?
“Does [it] think that questions regarding its six-month delay in fulfilling obligations clearly set out in a regulation in force should be answered in this way?”
The EU is under pressure to follow the US example which last month banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils by revoking their GRAS (Generally recognised as Safe), prompting calls from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) that EU policymakers should do the same.
The process of adding hydrogen to vegetables oils boosts shelf life and stability but it also creates trans fats, which have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death in Europe, according to the ESC.
EU Member states Austria, Hungary and Denmark have already passed national legislation to restrict the use of industrially produced trans fats but are so far the only countries to do so.
The EU Parliament has been pushing for a ban since 2008 and although many manufacturers in Western Europe have voluntarily reduced the use of industrially produced trans fats, they remain common in Eastern Europe.
A 2012 study found that in some Eastern European countries people could consume as much as 30 g of trans fat per day – a worrying figure given that consumption of 5 g per day is associated with a 23% increased risk of coronary heart disease.