Cutting back trans fats

After Sept. 30, all meals served in restaurants in British Columbia will not contain trans fat.

B.C. is the first Canadian province to take measures against trans fat, which is widely regarded as having harmful effects on health.

Following the release of Health Canada’s Trans Fat Task Force Report in June 2007, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has been recommending that the federal and provincial governments introduce regulations to eliminate trans fat in the Canadian food supply.

According to a statement issued by the Heart and Stroke Foundation in June, “Reducing trans fat levels to those recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force will reduce the number of heart attacks in Canada and save lives.

“A high consumption of trans fats leads to a threefold increase in the risk of heart disease and is responsible for almost 3,000 cardiac deaths every year in Canada.

“Trans fats are at least five times more harmful, on a gram-by-gram basis, than saturated fats,” stated the report.

The new regulations in B.C. will also place restrictions on packaged foods, allowing a maximum of between two and five per cent trans fat content.

“We want healthier food choices to be the easier choice. Consumers won’t see or taste the difference in the meal they’ve ordered, but with restrictions on industrially produced trans fat, they will be eating foods that have been prepared using healthier ingredients,” said British Columbia’s minister of healthy living and sport, Ida
Chong, in a statement issued on Sept. 29.

However, the new regulations do not apply to food sold in grocery stores.

This has been the source of criticism from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), a national advocacy group that represents restaurants, caterers and other food service businesses in Canada.

“This is an example of our industry being side-swiped by a public policy initiative where the real public policy impact would be covering grocery stores and covering all food,” said CRFA’s regional vice-president Mark Von Schellwitz in an interview with the CBC.