Consumer Council lists snacks with high levels of trans-fats

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2012, 3:39am

Pastry lovers should beware of unhealthy trans-fats, even though levels have fallen in the past five years.

Among all snacks tested by the Consumer Council and Centre for Food Safety, pastries were found to contain the highest average amount of the unhealthy fat. Other items tested included cakes, egg tarts, pies and bread.

Trans-fats contain a type of fatty acid known as trans-isomer. They increase the risk of heart attacks by raising the level of "bad" cholesterol that can clog arteries. Manufacturers use them to make foods stay fresh longer and have a less greasy feel.

One croissant sample was found to have 1.1 grams of trans-fat per 100 grams, and a ham and tuna puff pastry contained 0.92 grams.

Cheesecakes were also high in trans-fats. A piece of Japanese-style cheesecake weighing 169 grams contained 1.1 grams of the unhealthy substance - equal to about 50 per cent of the recommended daily limit.

The levels in the latest tests are considerably lower than in tests conducted in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

For example, the average amount of trans-fats found in Swiss rolls in the latest test was 0.29 grams per 100 grams, down from 0.53 grams in the previous checks.

"The comparisons showed that food manufacturers can control the amount of trans-fats by selecting [appropriate] ingredients," the centre's principal medical officer, Dr Samuel Yeung Tze-kiu, said.

Producers are advised to avoid using hydrogenated vegetable oil and animal fat in the food production process.

The World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has recommended that less than 1 per cent and 10 per cent of a person's daily energy intake should come from trans-fats and saturated fats respectively.