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Jan 1, 2008

By Leanne Dohy
Communications. city of Calgary, Canada
Calgary Health Region news release

The first phase of the Calgary Health Region’s trans fat reduction initiative becomes effective January 1, making the Region the first health jurisdiction in the country to implement regulations to reduce levels of the most dangerous type of dietary fat in local food supplies.

Food permit holders throughout the Region will be required to follow the policy, which stipulates that all margarines, all spreads made with margarine, and all fats and oils used for frying, deep-frying, sauteing or grilling must have no more than two per cent of the total fat content as trans fat.

The second phase of the initiative is slated to become effective in mid-2009, and will require that no foods sold or stored by food permit holders exceed five per cent trans fat content as a percentage of total fat. This timeframe aligns with the date set by the federal Minister of Health for voluntary compliance with the trans fat guidelines, set out in the national task force report accepted by the minister earlier this year.

Data released by Health Canada earlier this month demonstrates clearly that while good progress has been made within certain areas of the foodservice industry in terms of trans fat content, there is still the need for action at the regional level as some companies have made little progress in reducing trans fat content, says Dr. Brent Friesen, Medical Officer of Health. The research suggests there is no safe level of consumption of trans fat, and there are still restaurants that are using products with trans fat content as high as 42 per cent. That is an unacceptable health risk.

A recent survey of more than 400 food permit holders within the Region found that a majority had already switched to oils that meet the proposed new requirements and two-thirds already use acceptable spreads. Additionally, the survey found that food permit holders identified alternative product lists and education as important tools to assist them in meeting the proposed regulations.

Public health inspectors will work with food permit holders in the coming months, offering education regarding the policy. Businesses not in compliance with the policy will be noted, but violations will not be issued on the first visit. If a food permit holder is not in compliance after being offered education regarding acceptable product substitutions, the public health inspector will begin progressive enforcement, which could lead to the suspension of a food permit.

As much as one-third of dietary trans fat comes from food purchased outside the home, says Dr. Friesen. Based on this fact and the experience we’ve gained implementing the proposed trans fat reduction requirements in our own facilities as part of our Healthy Eating initiative, we believe this is a feasible switch for our food permit holders to make.

Health Vigor note:A good begining towards a total ban. New york city already had a ban in place. Lets get transfat outlawed completely.


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