In our Premiere issue of Best Health magazine last March, we called upon Health Canada to ban trans fats in prepared foods rather they relying on voluntary reductions by industry (see, Hey Canada: Let’s Ban Trans Fats). The disappointing results released last week from the latest Health Canada report in its Trans Fat Monitoring Program show this voluntary approach still isn’t working.
Trans fatty acids are the partially hydrogenated fats found in many commercially fried and breaded food products and baked goods. They deliver a one-two punch: boosting bad LDL cholesterol levels linked to heart disease, while lowering heart-protecting good HDL cholesterol. High consumption can triple the risk of heart disease and is responsible for at least 3,000 cardiac deaths in Canada each year, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The latest report card—the third of four scheduled reviews—shows widespread, high levels of trans fats in noodles, cookies, crackers, pies and doughnuts. Of the 517 fast food and grocery products tested, almost one-quarter fail to meet the five percent limit set as a benchmark.
The results highlight the problem with voluntary guidelines: While some producers reduced trans fat levels long ago, others seem to ignore the recommendations entirely. And stronger legislation has been shown to work. The Calgary Health Region, which locally mandated the federal recommendations, has managed to get 98 percent compliance in city eateries.
Have you tried to eliminate trans fats? What’s been the toughest challenge?