A shocking 29 percent of all deaths in Canada are caused by heart disease, the second leading cause of death. To resist further health risks, Health Canada has recently announced a ban on partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of artificial trans fat. In order to give the food industry enough time to comply, the ban will come into force on September 15, 2018.
Domestically produced, imported, and food prepared in restaurants will all be affected, meaning it will be illegal to sell any food containing PHOs in Canada once the ban goes into effect. According to the Mayo Clinic, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil was introduced because it is, “…less likely to spoil, so foods made with it have a longer shelf life. Some restaurants use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in their deep fryers because it doesn’t have to be changed as often as do other oils.”
To the country’s dismay, these oils are doing more harm than good. Trans fat is the worst fat because it raises ‘bad’ or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and lowers levels of ‘good’ or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increasing the risk of heart disease.
Popular foods containing artificial trans fat include cakes, pies, cookies (especially those with frosting), biscuits, breakfast sandwiches, margarine, crackers, microwave popcorn, cream-filled candies, doughnuts, fried fast foods, and frozen pizza.
Some foods containing PHOs may have labels stating there is no trans fat, but this is not necessarily true. In Canada, if a food contains less than 0.2 grams trans fat, it can be labeled as 0 grams trans fat. Consuming small amounts of food containing trans fat can add up quickly especially when you’re eating multiple servings in your weekly diet.
By introducing this ban, Health Canada hopes to reduce trans fat in the Canadian food supply, which in turn will help to reduce Canadians’ risk of heart disease and save lives.
Canada’s Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor said, “Eliminating the main source of industrially produced trans fat from the food supply is a major accomplishment and a strong new measure that will help to protect the health of Canadians.”
Health Canada is responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, ensures accessible high-quality health services, and works to reduce health risks.