Reports of ban on trans fats 'not accurate'

Recent media reports that have given the impression that the United States is “banning” trans fats from the food supply completely are not accurate, says FGC CEO Katherine Rich.

"The announcement is about artificial trans fats, not naturally occurring trans fats.

"American industry has three years to reformulate, and in the event that companies can show there is no other substitute then exemptions will be considered.

"Trans fats are naturally occurring so the suggestion that they can be banned completely is impossible.  To do so would be to outlaw many meat and dairy products, which are an important part of the New Zealand diet.

"Eating too many foods containing high levels of trans fats is not healthy. Intake of trans fats has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease by contributing to the build-up of plaque inside the arteries that may cause a heart attack.

"The Ministry for Primary Industries and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) have considered the issue of trans fats many times and concluded that because of the very low level of consumption in New Zealand, regulation is not necessary.

"There are major differences between the United States and New Zealand food supplies in terms of product ranges and popularity of processed foods containing trans fats.  For example, New Zealanders don’t eat the same amount of buttery popcorns, ready-made frostings, coffee creamers, stick magarines, or frozen cookie doughs that are consumed in the American market.

Kiwis and Aussies consume very low levels of trans fats – well below the World Health Organisation recommendation of 1% of a daily energy intake. According to FSANZ, monitoring of trans fats in the Australian and New Zealand food supply has found that Australians obtain on average 0.5 per cent of their daily energy intake from trans fats while New Zealanders obtain on average 0.6 per cent.

In contrast, Americans, according to the US Food & Drug Administration, get an estimated 2.6% of their calories from trans fats, and this has decreased from past levels which were higher.

Over the past decade, the food industry has reformulated products where possible to remove unnecessary trans fats to use alternative vegetable oils. The desire to remove trans fats is one of the reasons why the use of palm oil has increased over the past few decades."