Mandatory trans fat labelling a ‘must’ for Australians’ health, Heart Foundation call

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd March 2015
Mandatory trans fat labelling a ‘must’ for Australians’ health, Heart Foundation call
Mandatory trans fat labelling a ‘must’ for Australians’ health, Heart Foundation call

The Australian Heart Foundation is calling on the Ministerial Forum to reverse its recent decision to not make trans fat labelling mandatory.

Australian Food News reported in February 2015 that Government Ministers at a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation had accepted the advice of Food Standards Australian New Zealand that, given the low level of Trans Fatty Acids (TFA) in the foods sampled in Australia and New Zealand, mandatory labelling did not appear warranted.

Heart Foundation National CEO Mary Barry said the organisation had consistently called, over many years, for mandatory labelling of trans fats on the nutrition information panel.

“Australians are entitled to know what is in their food,” Ms Barry said. “We have always supported the mandatory declaration of trans fatty acids from all sources on all foods,” she said.

“We know trans fats to be very harmful for our health – increasing our risk of heart disease by increasing the ‘bad’ cholesterol, while also lowering the ‘good’ cholesterol in our blood,” Ms Barry said. “The most recent data from ABS on what Australians are eating indicated that on average, Australians are getting about 0.6 per cent of total energy from trans fat which is below the World Health Organisation’s guideline of 1 per cent of total energy,” she said.

Ms Barry said that while this figure may on face value sound like a “good achievement”, trans fats were “often found in cheap foods” and there was concern that particular groups of the population may be consuming more than this average, such as those from a low socioeconomic background.

“We care a great deal about the amount of trans fat Australians are eating and continue to have a focus on this as there is strong evidence for the negative impact of trans fat on heart health,” Ms Barry said.

Currently, in Australia there is no requirement for the label on a food product to list trans fat in the nutrition information panel. The exceptions to this are if a nutrition claim made on the product about other fats (such a omega-3 or cholesterol or monounsaturated fat).

The Heart Foundation regularly reviews the evidence on the impact of dietary fats on cardiovascular disease. The most recent review showed that trans fat intake increases LDL cholesterol, decreases HDL cholesterol, increases Lipoprotein (a) and increases fasting triglycerides.