Heart Foundation calls for saturated fat labelling on menus

Posted by Editorial on 1st October 2009

The Heart Foundation is calling on the restaurant and fast-food industries to switch from saturated fats to healthier alternatives.

Speaking at the World Congress on Oils and Fats in Sydney this week, the health group argued that there is a need for labelling of fats on menus.

Restaurant menu

“Unfortunately most of the outlets are using fats that are very high in saturated fats, some of them are up to about 50 per cent, whereas there is healthier options available at saturated fat levels of 7 per cent,” Susan Anderson, the Heart Foundation’s director of healthy weight, told ABC radio.

“I think we would really love the fast food sector and the food service industry to switch to these healthier oils,” she added. “They have got great functionality and of course, they are better for Australians health.”

John Hart, the CEO of Restaurant and Catering Australia, noted that a number in the industry had already made moves to switch voluntarily but suggested mandatory labelling requirements would be too costly.

“We can’t afford to be able to introduce requirements of labelling of any sort that will make the cost of product prohibitive and we still all want to be able to go out and get take away or get a restaurant meal whenever we want to,” he explained.

Mr Hart added that regulations to limit certain ingredients could create an issue with regard to knowing where to draw the line.

“The problem is that it is the thin edge of the wedge and what we need to do is keep the options open to business and not close off what ingredients they use. I mean, if it starts with a particular type of oil, then it will be a particular type of butter, a particular type of margarine, a particular type of beef, a particular type of lamb and where does it end?”

“What we need to do is ensure that businesses have choice and that we’re not limiting what businesses can do or increasing costs to a point where it becomes prohibitive for consumers to eat out,” he concluded.