Canada's Trans Fat Scorecard: Few brownie points in latest survey



    Trans fats still far too prevalent in Canada's Food Supply

    OTTAWA, Feb. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - The Heart and Stroke Foundation calls on
the federal government to regulate trans fats in Canada's food supply
following the disappointing trans fat monitoring results released today by
Health Canada.
    "The food industry doesn't get many brownie points for their efforts to
self-regulate this time around," says Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke
Foundation of Canada and co-chair of the Trans Fat Task Force. "Although some
companies and sectors have stepped up to the plate and done well, overall the
food industry is not sufficiently reducing trans fats voluntarily. The time
has come for the federal government to regulate."
    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 risk of heart
disease and is responsible for at least 3,000 cardiac deaths every year in
Canada.(1) Trans fats are at least five times more harmful, on a gram-by-gram
basis, than saturated fats.(2)
    In June 2007 the federal government accepted the Trans Fat Task Force's
recommendations that the total trans fat content of cooking oils and soft
margarines should be no more than 2% of total fat content and that trans fats
in all other foods should be no more than 5%.
    This third round of monitoring focused attention on bakery products,
cookies, popcorn, and ethnic foods.
    Particularly disheartening is the fact that many brands of cookies,
processed popcorn, and brownies - foods often consumed by children - are the
worst offenders. "What is disturbing is that while some producers of the
products have long ago complied with the recommendations, others continue to
ignore them entirely," says Brown. "In short, we know that trans fats can be
relatively easily removed from these products but some companies it appears
just can't be bothered, despite the known health risks to the consumers. And
it seems, without regulation these companies will likely never bother."
    As with the earlier monitoring results, there are some bright spots. Some
ethnic foods performed particularly well in this analysis.
    Nonetheless bakery goods, much of it non-labelled, still represent huge
problem areas.
    The Foundation notes that without regulation, it does not appear that the
bakery sector will significantly remove trans fats nor invest in the
development of healthier alternatives they need in order to be able to make
this transition.
    "These results today show that voluntary measures, even with public
monitoring, are not going to be sufficient," says Brown. "Without regulation
companies that heeded the call of consumers and cared about the heart health
of their customers are being held to a higher standard than others who chose
to ignore the recommendations. Our federal government must act now to prepare
appropriate regulations."
    The government of British Columbia has committed publicly to bring
regulations into effect to restrict industrially-produced trans fat in
prepared food in food service establishments by 2010, in the absence of
federal regulations. Many U.S. cities and the state of California have already
enacted legislation. Polling data by Angus Reid Strategies has shown that 84%
of Canadians support a trans fat ban.
    The Foundation thanks Health Canada for compiling and releasing this
latest trans fat data.

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation encourages Canadians to prepare their
meals at home and eat as much fresh food as possible, limit their consumption
of processed foods , eat five to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day,
eat lower-fat products, and include items from the four food groups. Healthy
recipes can be found online at heartandstroke.ca.

    NOTE: See attached appendix for monitoring highlights

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation (www.heartandstroke.ca), a
volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke
and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its
application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    References:

    1. Estimate based on Harvard School of Public Health data.

    The Harvard School of Public Health and the Brigham and Women's Hospital
in Boston estimated that at least 30,000 and as many as 100,000 cardiac deaths
a year in the US could be prevented if people replaced trans fat with
healthier oils. Applying these estimates to the Canadian population we get an
estimate of as many as 30,000 cardiac deaths every decade in Canada or 3,000
deaths a year. CSPI estimates 3,200 deaths per year, which is totally aligned
with our estimate of 3,000.

    2. Stender S, Dyerberg J. Influence of trans fatty acids on health.
       Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2004;48:61-6.
    


    
                            Trans Fat Data Tables
           January 2009 Heart and Stroke Foundation press release


                       Non-Retail/Non-labelled Products
                       --------------------------------

                               Bakery Products

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Type of Product                   Percentage of products above 5% Trans
                                      fat level(*)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Croissants                        75%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Danishes                          55%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Pies                              64%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tarts                             33%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cakes                             57%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Brownies                          50%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Donuts                            67%(*)(*)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Donut & Coffee Shop Products
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Type of Product                   % products above 5% Trans fat level(*)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Danish, muffins, cookies,
     croissants, biscuits, donuts     40%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ethnic Foods
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Type of Product                   % products above 5% Trans fat level(*)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Beef samosas, pork chops,
     cookies, nuggets, noodles,
     pretzels, etc.                   11%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


                           Retail/Labelled Products
                           ------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Type of Product                   % products above 5% Trans fat level(*)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cookies                           34%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Crackers                          10%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Instant Noodle                    8%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Frozen Potatoes                   8%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Pre-packaged Dessert              21%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Snacks                            8%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Popcorn                           32%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (*) Trans fats are listed as a percentage of total fat. In the case of
        trans fats, 5% or less implies significantly reduced harm.

    (*)(*) Interpret with caution, small sample size.
    




For further information:

For further information: Eileen Melnick McCarthy, Heart and Stroke
Foundation, (613) 569-4361 ext. 318


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