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Trans fats

In 2005 and 2007 the NSW Food Authority undertook surveys to determine the level of trans fatty acids (TFA) in selected foods.

TFAs are unsaturated fats. Unlike the 'good' unsaturated fatty acids found in fish and some vegetable oils, however, once consumed trans fats have effects in the body more like saturated fats and can influence the level of "good" and "bad" cholesterol.

Trans fats can be found naturally in meat and milk from certain animals. They are also a product of fats and oils altered by industrial food processes such as hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is widely used to solidify liquid vegetable oils to make products such as margarines and shortenings and involves adding hydrogen to the oils.

  • In 2005, 250 foods were tested for TFAs. Foods sampled included takeaway foods, dairy products, eggs, soy milk, margarines, meat products, fish, bakery products, oils and cooking fats, pasta and snack foods. The 2005 survey was conducted to assist in a review of TFAs in foods undertaken by FSANZ.
  • In 2007, another 114 samples were tested, focusing on foods with higher TFA levels in 2005.

As part of the study, the level of TFA in foods was compared to the 2% limit in Denmark.


Overall, TFA concentrations in Australian processed and takeaway foods were generally low. In 2007 the level of trans fats in selected foods was lower than for the 2005 samples.

The majority of foods tested has less than 2% TFAs.

Foods that contained greater than 2% TFAs were predominately those that contained ingredients with natural TFAs or a mixture of natural and artificial TFAs.

Full results are available in the report below.

Executive summary
Materials and methods