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Euro-MPs declare war on trans fats

The fight against trans fats has now moved to the European Parliament with a group of four MEPs tabling a "Declaration" supported by tfX calling on the Commission to drop its legal action against Denmark for banning trans fats, to initiate a trans fat labelling regime, and to move towards a Europe-wide ban.

The Written declaration on trans fatty acids, initiated by MEPs Jim Higgins, Dan Jørgensen, John Bowis and Linda McAvan (Labour's Health spokesperson in the European Parliament, who represents Yorkshire and the Humber), states:

The European Parliament,
  • having regard to Council Directive 90/496/EEC and its intended revision,
  • having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,
  1. noting that diseases of the heart and circulatory system account for 1.9 million deaths in the European Union per year,
  2. noting that trans fatty acids are proven to increase LDL cholesterol while decreasing HDL cholesterol, increasing the risk of developing coronary heart disease, thus contributing to diseases of the heart and circulatory system,
  3. whereas the replacement of trans fatty acids with alternatives in food production can lead to increasing levels of HDL cholesterol, which helps to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease,
  4. concerned that the lack of existing legislation across the EU poses unnecessary health risks to citizens,
  5. welcoming the initiative taken by the Kingdom of Denmark regarding legislation aimed at significantly reducing the amount of trans fatty acids in food products,
  6. regretting the move taken by the European Commission to initiate legal proceedings against the Kingdom of Denmark,
  1. Calls on the Commission and Council to increase awareness of the dangers of trans fatty acids by introducing a mandatory labelling system and public awareness campaigns;
  2. Calls on the Commission and Council, in light of the available scientific and factual information, to introduce the necessary measures to ensure a movement towards the elimination of trans fatty acids from food products;
  3. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Council and the Commission.

Linda McAvan MEP told tfX:

"Like many other people I only realised how serious the health problems caused by trans fats are quite recently, but they have been around since the 1950s. Many people, I imagine, don't even know that they are eating them. But the scientific evidence is now stacking up at a remarkable pace: trans fats pose a serious long-term health threat. The implications of eating these fats is not just that you'll put on weight, but that you are greatly increasing your risk of heart disease, and now it seems of becoming infertile. We don't need them, and we should ban them."

Fine Gael Senator Jim Higgins MEP said to the European Parliament

"Heart disease accounts for 1.9 million deaths in the European Union each year. Trans fatty acids are proven to increase LDL cholesterol while decreasing HDL cholesterol increasing the risk of developing coronary heart disease, thus contributing to diseases of the heart and circulatory system ... The replacement of trans fatty acids with alternatives in food production can lead to increasing levels of HDL cholesterol that helps to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. I welcome the initiative taken by the Kingdom of Denmark regarding legislation aimed at significantly reducing the amount of trans fatty acids in food products, and regret the move taken by the European Commission to initiate legal proceedings against the Kingdom of Denmark."

Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas (who represents SE England) also signalled the support of the Green Group in the European Parliament:

"Greens have long argued that the growing prevalence of processed food carries numerous health and environmental risks. We all have a duty to try and reduce these dangers and one practical and workable first step is to ban trans fats. I hope that MEPs will support the written declaration and call on the European Commission to help protect the health of citizens across Europe."

Action

Ask your MEPs to sign the Declaration by 30 April 2007. To find out who your MEPs are, and how to write to / email them, see www.writetothem.com.

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