Health Canada is proposing new regulations to prohibit trans fats in all foods sold in Canada. The Agency wants to eliminate the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) – the main source of trans fats in industrially produced food.
“In the 1990s, Canadians had one of the highest intakes of trans fats in the world. Although we consume fewer trans fats today, more needs be done to reduce Canadians’ trans fat intake.”
“Since the early 2000s, Health Canada has pursued a multi-faceted approach aimed at reducing the trans fat intakes of Canadians, including mandatory trans fat labelling, setting voluntary targets for processed foods and establishing an active monitoring and open reporting program to measure industry’s progress toward meeting the voluntary targets.”
The consumption of trans fats is linked to increased risks of heart disease and stroke, and raising the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada, resulting in about 50,000 deaths in 2012. Studies have shown that the risk of heart disease substantially increases when the consumption of trans fats increases.
A Notice of Proposal is available online and comments are being accepted until June 21, 2017.
Once the regulation is finalized, the prohibition would come into effect one year later, to give manufacturers time to rework their products.
So what is trans fat?
Some meat and dairy products contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fat. But most trans fat is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature.
This partially hydrogenated oil is less likely to spoil, so foods made with it have a longer shelf life. Some restaurants use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in their deep fryers, because it doesn’t have to be changed as often as do other oils.
Trans fat in your food
The manufactured form of trans fat, known as partially hydrogenated oil, is found in a variety of food products, including:
- Baked goods. Most cakes, cookies, pie crusts and crackers contain shortening, which is usually made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Ready-made frosting is another source of trans fat.
- Snacks. Potato, corn and tortilla chips often contain trans fat. And while popcorn can be a healthy snack, many types of packaged or microwave popcorn use trans fat to help cook or flavor the popcorn.
- Fried food. Foods that require deep frying — french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken — can contain trans fat from the oil used in the cooking process.
Refrigerator dough. Products such as canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls often contain trans fat, as do frozen pizza crusts.
- Creamer and margarine. Nondairy coffee creamer and stick margarines also may contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.