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Food injurious to health

This letter by environmental health practitioner Stewart Brock was published in the BMJ on 16 June 2010 at www.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/340/jun16_3/c2981?rss=1 / doi:10.1136/bmj.c2981 / citation: BMJ 2010;340:c2981.

We reproduce it here in full as the BMJ is charging the absurd sum of £23.50 for you to read the final two lines of the letter, that do not fit into the abstract.

In many jurisdictions it is unlawful to render food injurious to health. For example, the UK Food Safety Act section 7 states:

"Rendering food injurious to health:
  1. Any person who renders any food injurious to health by means of any of the following operations, namely -
    1. adding any article or substance to the food;
    2. using any article or substance as an ingredient in the preparation of the food; ...
  2. In determining ... whether any food is injurious to health, regard shall be had -
    1. not only to the probable effect of that food on the health of a person consuming it; but
    2. also to the probable cumulative effect of food of substantially the same composition on the health of a person consuming it in ordinary quantities."

Note the emphasis in section 7(2)(b) on probable cumulative effects when consumed in ordinary quantities.

If it is the case that people on poor diets consume considerable amounts of industrial trans fatty acids, even where the average is quite low, it seems that using industrial trans fatty acids as food ingredients, in any foods that some consumers would eat regularly and frequently, may be unlawful in the United Kingdom.

Stewart N. Brock, chartered environmental health practitioner.


A private prosecution?

Any legal opinion or other assistance towards a private prosecution of a high profile purveyor of trans fats would be welcome. Please contact tfX.

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