Levels of trans fats found in takeaway foods from outlets in Scotland are not of major concern, according to a new report.
Trans fats are naturally present in dairy products and in meat from animals such as beef and lamb, but they are also manufactured to be used in the fat-hardening process. Previous investigations have shown that trans fats are linked to an increased risk of a person developing coronary heart disease.
It is recommended by the Scientific Advisory Committee that a person's daily food intake contains no more than two per cent of trans fats.
A study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency in Scotland (FSAS) set out to discover how prevalent trans fats were in takeaways in some of the more deprived areas of the country, as these are typically home to an increased number of such outlets.
To investigate this, the FSAS analysed approximately 200 samples, with results showing levels of trans fats to be surprisingly low, as an average of just one gram was found per single food item and 1.5 grams per full meal.
However, slightly more worrying findings were discovered with regard to saturated fats, which are known to cause high cholesterol and can increase a person's risk of developing heart disease.
Many of the samples tested by the FSAS showed higher than recommended levels of saturated fats, particularly among fried foods of animal origin. The type of oil used by the outlet was also found to affect how much of this type of fat was present in a takeaway.
This is a significant finding, as the Scottish government suggests people should consume no more than 11 per cent of their calories from saturated fats each day, but the actual figure is believed to be more in the region of 12.8 per cent.
Director of the FSAS Charles Milne commented: "While the results of this study are reassuring with respect to trans fats, it highlights the very high levels of saturated fats in many takeaway foods. The findings of this report will be used to inform out-of-home catering actions by the FSAS and Scottish government."