The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is pushing through a review of the health impacts of trans fatty acids requested by Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson last week.
The FSA has asked food companies and trade bodies to give their feedback at a public meeting, hastily scheduled for 29 October at its London headquarters. It will also accept written evidence received by 16 November. It plans to have a response ready for government by 19 December.
International comparisions looking at Denmark, which has strict restrictions on trans fats, and New York, which is to ban trans fats by July 2008, will also be looked at.
The FSA will assess the practicalities of restrictions on trans fats and reformulating foods. The review follows a new report on obesity, The Foresight Study Tackling Obesities: Future Choices, which predicted that, on current trends, by 2050, 60% of men, 50% of women and 26% of children and young people would be obese.
In a House of Commons statement on the report Johnson said he had asked the FSA to examine whether there was "more we should ask the food industry to do in this area."
Meanwhile, uncertainty regarding cancer risks has led the FSA to order further research on proposed folic acid fortification of bread or flour. In June, the FSA recommended fortification with folic acid, based on advice from the Scientific Advisory Group on Nutrition (SACN), with the condition there were controls on voluntary fortification and clear guidance on use of supplements.
An expert group of SACN members and cancer experts is to examine new evidence.