Chinese Journal of Medical History / Zhong Hua Yi Shi Za Zhi

[This article belongs to Volume - 53, Issue - 02]

Abstract : Trans fatty acids (TFAs) consumption has been unequivocally associated with several adverse health effects. In fact, consuming TFAs in amounts greater than 2% of total energy intake (TEI) is associated with a 23% increase in cardiovascular risk. To reduce TFA-related morbidity and mortality, several countries have imposed voluntary or mandatory measures to minimize the content of industrial TFAs (iTFAs) in the food supply. The elimination of industrially produced TFAs by 2023 is a priority goal of the World Health Organization (WHO). The purpose of this study is to inventory the main levels and sources of TFAs in the Moroccan diet as a first step towards reducing, replacing, or eliminating industrially produced TFAs to align with the WHO recommendations. A total of 55 samples of local products and major food sources of TFAs (edible vegetable oils, margarines and shortenings, yoghurts, creams, sausages, potato chips, pastries, butter, spreads, and breakfast cereals) were collected and analyzed by gas chromatography (GC) to determine the fatty acid composition profile. Fatty acids were then expressed as a percentage of total fat. In the six pastry margarine samples, the TFA content ranged from 1.27% to 7.44%, with an average of 5.12%. The TFA content ranged from 0.34% to 8.84%, with an average of 2.22% for the spreadable margarines. In the oil samples, the TFA content ranged from 0.26% (sunflower oil) to 1.18% (edible oil), with an average of 0.67%. Shortenings had a TFA content of 42.16%, followed by partially hydrogenated palm oil (5.26%) and partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil (2.86%). The average percentage of TFA was 3.07% for butter. As for the other food products, the percentage of TFA in pastries was on average 0.03%, 0.48% in creams, 0.27% in potato chip samples, 0.03% in cold cuts, 0.16% in breakfast cereals, and 0.19% in spreads. Our study provides for the first time an estimate of TFA levels in selected Moroccan food products and shows high levels of TFA in common food products. Our results support the need to accelerate national efforts to reduce, replace, or eliminate industrial trans in the Moroccan diet. These results could be used as a basis for advocacy for a ban on partially hydrogenated oils.