What is Trans Fat? Why is it perceived as unhealthy? How does trans-fat occur in processed food? What are the sources of trans fat? How to eliminate/reduce trans-fat in processed food?


Trans-fatty acids (TFAs) are ‘man-made’ by industrial hardening of unsaturated fats. Industrially produced trans-fatty acids have been linked to increased risks for a number of diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, diabetes, infertility, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers (Kleber et al., 2016).

Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are the primary source of artificial trans fats. Margarines and shortenings, which are used in a wide range of food products including fried foods, pastries, cake mixes and frozen dinners are obtained through industrial hydrogenation and contain significant amounts of trans-fatty acids (MacDonald, 2015). Trans fat is also present in sweets, chocolates, spreads, soups, salad dressings and snacks (Dhaka et al., 2011).

Hydrogenation is a process that has been used in food industry to convert liquid vegetable oils into solid fats (MacDonald, 2015). The trans-fatty acids content produced depends on the variables of the hydrogenation process including time, catalyst, temperature, and hydrogen pressure; the types and proportions of oils and composition of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) (Dhaka et al., 2011).

A wise choice of emulsifiers in processed food could help to achieve end products that are trans fat free. For example emulsifiers such as Emulpals 115, Emulpals 116 and Palsgaard SA 6610 are vegetable-based, free of allergens and trans fats (Food Ingredients First, 2016).



Dhaka, V., Gulia, N., Ahlawat, K. S. & Khatkar, B. S. (2011). Trans fats—sources, health risks and alternative approach – A review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 48(5), 534-541.

Food Ingredients First. (2016). Palsgaard Eyes Opportunity for No Trans Fat Lean Label Emulsifiers.

Gorton, L. (2016). Emulsifier innovations.

Kleber, M. E., Delgado, G. E., Lorkowski, S., Marz, W. & Schacky, C. V. (2016). Trans-fatty acids and mortality in patients referred for coronary angiography: the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health Study. European Heart Journal, 37(13), 1072-1078.

MacDonald, R. S. (2015). Goodbye to Trans Fats. The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science.



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