Fatty Acid Composition

A wide range of oils and fats is available. To a large extent, what differentiates these products from each other is their fatty acid composition. Since they are natural products it is also possible that there are differences in the fatty acid composition of an individual oil type according to season or region.

Fats and oils fulfil an important function in foods:

  • Fats in part determine the food's consistency, texture, mouth sensation and melting behaviour.
  • Fats play a role in the heat transfer in and the water activity of a product.
  • Fats make certain preparations, such as frying, possible.
  • Fats are taste carriers.
  • Fats create a feeling of satiation.

The Good Nutrition Guidelines of the Health Council contain a description of the nutritional requirements that must be met by a diet that supplies sufficient amounts of nutritional substances and that is preventive in terms of deficiencies and nutrition-related lifestyle diseases. According to the Health Council, oils and fats are part of a healthy nutritional pattern. Fats and oils are important suppliers of essential fatty acids (omega 3 fatty acid ALA and the omega 6 fatty acid linoleic acid) and the vitamins A, D and E. Click here for the Dutch recommendations on fats.

The 2007-2010 Food Consumption Poll (FCP) conducted by the Netherlands National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM) shows that the type of fat in Dutch foods has further improved in recent years. Only the average intake of saturated fatty acids is above the recommended maximum of 10 energy percent. The largest part of the fat consumed daily is unsaturated fat. Furthermore, a poll conducted by the RIVM shows that 95 to 99 percent of the Dutch population complies with the recommendations for trans fatty acids (click here for the report on this poll).

In 2011, MVO, together with the Association of Dutch Margarine Manufacturers (BNMF), joined the Netwerk Herformulering Productaanbod [Product Range Reformulation Network]. The ambitions of MVO and BNMF within this network have been incorporated into an Action Plan (in Dutch). The focus of this plan is on further promoting the consumption of unsaturated fat in foods as a replacement for saturated fat and trans fat. The aim over the coming years is to at least preserve the share of liquid frying fats in both the catering and the retail sector and to at least preserve the share of liquid margarines in the retail sector.

In addition, MVO provides extensive information about fats and oils on the website www.allesovervetten.nl (in Dutch). 

Responsible Fatty Acid Composition Taskforce

At the initiative of the MVO Product Board, the Taskforce between 2003 and 2010 actively devoted its efforts to improving the fatty acid composition of products prepared with vegetable fats and oils. The trans fatty acids content in all products of the sectors affiliated with the Taskforce declined to extremely low levels. This has resulted in an average trans fatty acid intake lower than the maximum recommended intake of 1 energy percent. In addition, activities relating to the reducing of the saturated fat content of products and/or the increasing of the share of products with a lower saturated fat content were carried out in the context of the Responsible Fatty Acid Composition Taskforce (also see Article in Voeding Nu, November 2013, page 25 - in Dutch).  The Taskforce successfully completed its task and was disbanded in 2010.  Click here for more information about the Responsible Fatty Acid Composition Taskforce.

Last modified: November 13, 2017 14:02