I suggest that the food industry should be subject to a time limit for removing hazards identified in the global food system (see L. Haddad Nature 556, 19–22; 2018). For example, we have known for decades that industrially processed trans-fatty acids (TFAs) in food are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Although TFAs can be removed from the food supply efficiently, in many countries these still persist (see, for example, S. Stender et al. BMJ Open 6, e010673; 2016).
Denmark has been leading the fight against TFAs since 2004. And seven years have been lost since the European Union issued its food-labelling regulation in 2011, which would have been an opportunity to tackle TFAs. Although a TFA ban is still on the EU agenda, taking action is up to individual states — for example, TFAs are no longer permitted in Slovenia.
By contrast, a ban on partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, the source of TFAs in food, has just come into effect in the United States; Canada will follow next month. And the World Health Organization this year made elimination of TFAs by 2023 the highest priority in its ‘REPLACE’ action programme.
Nature 560, 307 (2018)
I.P. is a leader of the Slovenian national research programme ‘Nutrition and Public Health’ (P3-0395) funded by the Slovenian Research Agency, and of the national research project ‘Trans Fats in Food in Slovenia’ (L3-7538), funded by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovenian Research Agency and Mercator. The funding organizations had no role in writing the submitted Correspondence.