Trans fats have no nutritional value and are found in many popular fast food items like potato chips, french fries, cookies, cakes and doughnuts.
Canada is struggling to contain a growing obesity epidemic and this type of fat is not only making you pudgier, it’s raising your risk of heart disease – Canadians are among the highest consumers of trans fats in the world.
The Trans Fats Task Force said Wednesday that rates of coronary disease could be cut by five percent by reducing the amount of industrial trans fats used in foods.
“That’s a big reduction in coronary heart disease risk . . . so the impact can be significant,” said Sally Brown, co-chair of the task force, and C.E.O. of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
Trans fats are made in a partial hydrogenation process that hardens and stabilizes liquid vegetable oils to turn them into products like margarine or shortening.
Low levels naturally occur in dairy products and certain meats, but the high levels in Canadian fare are generally related to the widespread use of industrial trans fats.
In 2003, Denmark became the first country in the world to regulate the compound. Only two percent of the fat content of products can contain trans fats from sources other than meats and dairy products.
The Canadian task force is calling for similar limits for soft, spreadable tub-like margarines and a five percent limit for other foods like chewy granola bars, pastries, and packaged cookies containing industrially produced trans fats.
The task force’s recommendations apply to processed foods and meals served in restaurants.
The food industry has already got the ball rolling in the fight to cut out trans fats by moving to eliminate the additive from many products. Canada also imposed mandatory labelling last year.
The new regulations will be worked out over two years and the food industry will have another couple of years to comply.
The task force’s recommendations were welcomed by politicians of all stripes, including N.D.P. M.P. Pat Martin, who’s campaigned for these types of regulations for years.
“Hydrogenated oils were never meant to be eaten, this was never meant to be a food product, this was a processed food disaster from the word go. It was created as a substitute for candle wax, for God’s sake,” he said.
For more on the task force, click here.