Canadian manufacturers reduce trans fat

by Jeff Gelski
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OTTAWA — Canadian food manufacturers, including cookie and cracker makers, have reduced the amount of trans fat in their products, according to data released Dec. 20 by a trans-fat monitoring program set up by Health Canada.

In samples of cookies sold at retail, 60% of them met the recommended trans-fat limit of 5% of total fat in 2006, which was up from 33% in 2005. In samples of crackers sold at retail, 85% of them met the same goal in 2006, which was up from 59% in 2005. In pre-packaged foods overall, analyzed products accounted for more than 80% of the market share within that food category.

Foods from restaurants and fast-food establishments were sampled from major chains. French fries and chicken strips/nuggets were sampled in 2006 and 2007. In samples of french fries, 73% met the recommended trans-fat limit of 5% of total fat in 2007, which compared with 0% in 2006. In samples of chicken strips/nuggets, 76% met the goal in 2007, which compared with 29% in 2006.

"This data shows that in all food categories that were analyzed, there are many successful examples of trans-fat levels being reduced," said Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement. "This is great news, but we still have work to do as some foods continue to have trans-fat levels that are too high."

Health Canada plans to post another set of data in the spring.

"Health Canada’s ongoing monitoring and public release of the results are critical to encouraging industry to make product changes and helping consumers make informed choices on how to avoid trans fats.," said Sally Brown, chief executive officer of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and co-chair of a trans-fat task force.

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