Canada making progress in plan to cut trans fats in food supply

Posted by Isobel Drake on 16th February 2009

Canada’s Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, last week announced that Canada was continuing to make progress towards reducing the amount of trans fat in the Canadian food supply based on new data.

This data includes an analysis of bakery products, a small sample of international foods sold in restaurants, and nutrition information obtained from the Nutrition Facts table of pre-packaged foods. According to the research from the trans fat monitoring program, 80% of the pre-packaged foods selected for label review met the trans fat limit set by the Trans Fat Task Force in June 2006.

“Our government is pleased to see that industry has reduced the level of trans fat in many pre-packaged foods,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “This was achieved by finding healthier alternatives without increasing the levels of saturated fat. We are also encouraged that foods sold at various restaurants serving international cuisine are meeting the trans fat limit.”

The foods that were sampled in this set of data included:

* Bakery products from grocery stores, such as croissants, pies, tarts, cakes, brownies and donuts.
* Foods from restaurants serving Chinese, Thai, East Indian, Lebanese, Caribbean, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines.
* Donuts and muffins from popular coffee and donut shops.
* Pre-packaged foods from grocery stores, including cookies, crackers, instant noodles, frozen potatoes, desserts, snacks and popcorn.

In 2006, the Trans Fat Task Force recommended a trans fat limit of 2% of the total fat content for all vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines, and a limit of 5% of the total fat content for all other foods, including ingredients sold to restaurants. In June 2007, Health Canada adopted these recommendations and gave industry two years to demonstrate progress in meeting the recommended targets. Health Canada is monitoring progress through the Trans Fat Monitoring Program and is publishing the results on its website.

This is the third set of data to be released from Health Canada’s Trans Fat Monitoring Program. For the first two sets, Health Canada looked at those food categories that had previously contributed the highest levels of trans fats, including foods from family restaurants and popular fast food chains, as well as pre-packaged foods. The fourth and final set of monitoring data is to be posted in the northern hemisphere summer of 2009 (June-August).

Canada was the first country to require that the levels of trans fat in pre-packaged foods be included on the mandatory Nutrition Facts table.