A Canada-wide ban on trans fats comes into effect today.
The prohibition introduced by Health Canada applies to the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in foods destined for human consumption.
Partially hydrogenated oils, a type of unsaturated fatty acid, are the result of the chemical process which turns liquid vegetable oil into solid fats. Common culprits include products like margarine, shortening, and commercially baked goods.
According to Health Canada, “The consumption of trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), one of the leading causes of death in Canada.” The government agency has taken different approaches to reduce the trans fat intakes of Canadians since the early 2000s but the new ban will now “effectively reduce trans fats in the food supply to the lowest level possible.”
Health Canada provided notice of the impending ban one year ago today to allow the food industry to adjust product formulations accordingly. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for oversight and enforcement of the ban and will verify compliance through inspections, audits and/or sampling.
While industrial trans fats might be officially banned, Canadians will still find trans fats labeling on a large number of foods, as a result of their natural occurrence in meat and dairy products.
As well, any product manufactured with trans fats before today, Monday, September 17, will be able to remain on store shelves.