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IT'S TIME TO TRANSFORM THE FOOD SUPPLY

JANUARY 2, 2010 (Ottawa)
Regulate trans fats now.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation calls on the federal government to live up to the commitment made two years ago to regulate trans fats in Canada's food supply, based on Health Canada's final set of monitoring results released today.

"Canada's trans fat verdict is in," says Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "This fourth and final round of monitoring has demonstrated that levels of heart clogging trans fats are still far too prevalent in our food.

They can even be found at dangerous levels in foods in children's hospitals - the very places that are meant to improve the health of our children. Without government intervention, the trend will sadly continue."

This final set of data focused on small and medium sized restaurants and fast food chains, as well as other institutions such as high schools, CEGEPs, movie theatres, hospitals and universities.

"Once again, the levels of trans fats in baked goods, pastries and cookies, products which are frequently consumed by children, is particularly disturbing," says Brown.

Fourth round data shows 21 per cent of French fries, 26 per cent of chicken products, 50 per cent of bakery products and 60 per cent of cookies are still made with high levels of trans fats. "Without a clear signal to the market, oil producers will not produce healthy alternatives that can be used in majority of food categories that have remained an issue."

Brown says that Canadians should not have to worry about consuming foods that are not safe to eat. "Nutrition labeling didn't adequately tackle the problem. Without regulating processed trans fats there is no incentive for many companies to comply with reduction."

The Heart and Stroke Foundation applauds those food producers who long ago complied with the recommendations.

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 approximately five times more harmful, on a gram by gram basis, than saturated fats.

"Two years of self regulation hasn't worked. Voluntary measures clearly aren't working," says Brown. "Our federal government must act now to protect the health of Canadians and regulate. It is time."

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.

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