Consumption of industrially produced trans
-fatty acids (TFAs) is a well-established health risk factor that correlates with the increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The recommended TFA intake is as low as possible, within the context of a nutritionally adequate diet. Different countries have introduced different measures to minimize the exposure of their population to TFAs. Previous data have shown that TFA content has significantly decreased in Western European countries, while this was not the case in many Central-Eastern European countries, including Slovenia. In the absence of regulatory requirements, a number of awareness campaigns were launched in Slovenia since 2015, with the common goal of lowering the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), which are considered a major source of TFAs. To determine if this goal had been reached, we performed an assessment of the exposure of the population to prepacked foods containing PHOs in years 2015 and 2017. Altogether, data on the composition of 22,629 prepacked foods was collected from food labels, using a specifically developed smartphone application. Furthermore, the food categories with the most frequent use of PHOs were identified. The proportion of PHO-containing products was determined for each specific food category, and adjusted with the market share data. The results showed that in 2015, vegetable cream substitutes, soups, and biscuits were the categories with the highest penetration of declared PHO content. In 2017, the proportion of products with PHO decreased considerably. In vegetable cream substitutes the percentage of PHO containing items dropped from 30 down to 4%, in soups it decreased from 21 to 5%, in biscuits from 17 to 8%, and in crisps and snacks from 10 to 4%. However, PHO content remained notable among cakes, muffins, pastries, and biscuits. We can conclude that the voluntary guidelines and regular public communication of the risks related to the TFA consumption has had a considerable effect on the food supply, but did not result in sufficient removal of PHOs from foods.
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