Coffee Mate Was Banned In Some Countries For Having This Ingredient

Coffee Mate is a staple item in America. Walk into just about any office and you'll find this flavored coffee creamer stocked in the break room. Go into grocery stores around the holidays and you'll see rows of festively-flavored Coffee Mate available for purchase. Ask for creamer at a restaurant and you're more than likely to be handed a tiny plastic cup of the famous brand. However, if you travel to some countries, you may be hard-pressed to find any Coffee Mate — and it's not necessarily the product itself that's to blame. 

Instead, countries such as Austria and Hungary, and Scandinavian countries like Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, have banned one of Coffee Mate's key ingredients — hydrogenated oil. According to the Mayo Clinic, trans fat is the worst type of fat a human can eat. Trans fat raises bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. This type of fat is most typically found in hydrogenated oils, and non-dairy coffee creamers are one of the primary foods where hydrogenated oil is most likely to be found.

Why did Europe ban Coffee Mate?

In 2019, the European Commission passed legislation that limited trans fats in processed foods to 2 grams of trans fat per 100 grams of fat, or 2% (via Food Navigator). If you pick up a bottle of Coffee Mate and take a look at the nutrition facts, you'll see "trans fat" listed as 0 grams — so it should be in the clear, right? Well, not really. Turns out, that Coffee Mate label is technically a lie. Manufacturers in the U.S. can legally say a product is trans fat-free if the serving size of a product contains 0.5 grams of trans fat or less. 

Since the coffee brand is technically intended to be enjoyed in serving sizes of 1 tablespoon, the brand gets away with labeling its creamer as trans fat-free (via Prevention). In reality, hydrogenated vegetable oil is the second ingredient in Coffee Mate's original powdered creamer (via Nestle). Does this mean you should give up your coffee creamer for good if you want to avoid trans fats? Not at all. Coffee Mate does offer a few legitimately trans fat-free products, including its original liquid creamer, which is made with coconut oil.