The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said there is no need to ban harmful trans fats in the UK, as voluntary reductions by food companies have already significantly reduced consumers' exposure.
Heath Secretary Alan Johnson asked the FSA in October to review trans fats in light of action taken in Denmark and New York City to impose mandatory restrictions on the use of these types of fats in food.
The FSA concluded that voluntary action by the UK food industry has already delivered consumer benefits equivalent to the most restrictive legislation, with trans fats now accounting for an average of just 1% of food energy.
This is half the Scientific Advisory Committee's recommended maximum intake.
FSA chair Dame Deirdre Hutton said: "The voluntary reduction of trans fats is a great illustration of a regulator and industry working together for the benefit of public health."
She added that the FSA would focus on reducing levels of salt and saturated fats, which are consumed to excess in the UK.
It plans to make its recommendations to the government by 19 December, and the Department of Health will take the final decision on whether legislation is needed after this.
Trans fats, which are found in vegetable oil treated with hydrogen to extend shelf life, have been linked to increased cholesterol.
Fast-food chains including McDonalds have pledged to eliminate trans fats from their menus.
By Kerstin Kühn
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