A survey of the total content of trans-18∶1 acids and their detailed profile in French food lipids was conducted in 1995–1996, and 1999. For this purpose, 37 food
items were chosen from their label indicating the presence of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO) in their ingredients.
The content as well as the detailed profile of these isomers was established by a combination of argentation thin-layer chromatography
and gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) on long polar capillary columns. With regard to the mean trans-18∶1 acid contents of extracted PHVO, a significant decrease was observed between the two periods, i.e., from 26.9 to 11.8%
of total fatty acids. However, only minor differences were noted in the mean relative distribution profiles of individual
trans-18∶1 isomers with ethylenic bonds between positions Δ4 and Δ16 for the two periods. The predominant isomer was Δ9–18∶1 (elaidic)
acid, in the wide range 15.2–46.1% (mean, 27.9±7.2%) of total trans-18∶1 acids, with the Δ10 isomer ranked second, with a mean of 21.3% (range, 11.6 to 27.4%). The content of the unresolved
Δ6 to Δ8 isomer group was higher than the Δ11 isomer (vaccenic acid), representing on average 17.5 and 13.3%, respectively.
Other isomers Δ4, Δ5, Δ12, Δ13/Δ14, Δ15, and Δ16, were less than 10% each: 1.0, 1.6, 7.4, 7.1, 1.8, and 1.0%, respectively.
However, considering individual food items, it was noted that none of the extracted PHVO were identical to one another, indicating
a considerable diversity of such fats available to the food industry. A comparison of data for French foods with similar data
recently established for Germany indicates that no gross differences occur in PHVO used by food industries in both countries.
Estimates for the absolute mean consumption of individual isomers from ruminant fats and PHVO are made for the French population
and compared to similarly reconstructed hypothetical profiles for Germany and North America. Differences occur in the total
intake of trans-18∶1 acids, but most important, in individual trans-18∶1 isomer intake, with a particular increase of the Δ6–Δ8 to Δ10 isomers with increasing consumption of PHVO. It is inferred
from the present and earlier data that direct GLC of fatty acids is a faulty procedure that results (i) in variable underestimates
of total trans-18∶1 acids, (ii) in a loss of information as regards the assessment of individual isomeric trans-18∶1 acids, and (iii) in the impossibility of comparing data obtained from human tissues if the relative contribution of
dietary PHVO and ruminant fats is not known.