THEY have been blamed for putting people at increased risk of heart disease.

Now York confectioner Nestle Rowntree has revealed how it is working to reduce - and where possible remove - transfats from its recipes.

Transfats are a type of unsaturated fat which can occur naturally, but they are also created industrially through the partial hydrogenation of plant oils and animal fats.

Health authorities worldwide are recommending that consumption should be reduced to trace amounts, and the Food and Drink Federation says that UK food manufacturers are committed to reducing transfats from their brands as much as it technically feasible.

Nestle Rowntree said today that 52 product groups, including popular chocolate brands such as Rolo and Toffee Crisp, now had no added transfats at all.

In the remaining 14 products, it had reduced levels to less than one per cent, in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

"Nestle continues to explore ways to remove these TFA's (transfats)," said a spokeswoman.

"Finally, as part of its new nutritional guidelines, no TFA's will be added in any new confectionery product launches."

Other confectioners such as Cadbury Schweppes said they too were actively reducing trans fats to less than 0.5 grams per single serve.

News of the programme to remove transfats came as Nestle revealed that it is to fund research into the relationship between nutrition and the brain.

The company is to fund two Nestle chairs at a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology under a five-year agreement.

"The research will extend from studying the role nutrition plays in children's brain development to identifying ways of slowing down brain decline in older age and preventing diseases such as Alzheimer's," said a spokesman.

"The agreement will also include research into taste perception and flavour enhancement."

Nestle says that good diet is now thought to have more potential than was previously recognised to improve brain function, and specific nutritional targets could be set to slow down or even stabilise age-related brain decline.