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Keywords:

  • dietary fats;
  • fatty acid profile;
  • trans fatty acids

Abstract:  In response to public concern, this study assessed the fatty acid (FA) composition of blended spreads, margarines and shortenings in the Estonian retail market in 2011. Special attention was paid to the trans fatty acids (TFA) composition. The changes in these characteristics of selected dietary fats in the market over recent years are also presented. Twenty-six edible fat brands, available in the Estonian retail market in 2011, were purchased and FA compositions were analyzed by chromatography. Saturated fatty acids (SFA) were the dominant group of FAs for all blended spreads (49.6 to 65.8%), and for the majority of shortenings (from 21.1 to 54.6%). Cis monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) were the dominant group of FAs for the majority of margarines, ranging from 25.3% to 50.5%. The total TFA for blended spreads varied from 1.18% to 9.08%, for margarines from 0.04% to 34.96% and for shortenings from 0.14% to 39.50%. Octadecenoic (C18:1) isomers were the main TFA found. Compared to 2008/2009, the industrially produced TFA (IP-TFA) content in several of the dietary fat brands was much reduced in 2011. This voluntary reformulation was probably a response to consumer demand associated with a public health campaign directed against IP-TFA in Estonian foods, and were mainly achieved by replacing TFA with SFA C12:0-C16:0.

Practical Application:  Present paper is directed toward public health related institutions and food industries producing foods with potentially high contents of trans fatty acids (TFA). According to the public concern TFA content in domestic blended spreads has declined significantly over the past 3 y in Estonia. The reduction in the TFA content was achieved by replacing TFA with saturated fatty acids (SFA) (C12:0-C16:0). To shift food composition toward healthier product formulations, mandatory labeling of the sum of IP-TFA and SFA (C12:0-C16:0) was recommended.