Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement has announced that Health Canada is acting on the country’s Trans Fat Task Force’s recommendation and will call for food companies to reduce trans fat levels in various foods. At the outset, the Government is asking companies to make the reduction voluntarily but has said it will introduce legislation if the voluntary guidelines are not met.

The Goverment is set to require a reduction of trans fat levels in vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines to 2% of the total fat content. In addition, the recommendations will stipulate that the trans fat content for all other foods be reduced to 5% of the fat content, which would include foods sold to restaurants.

“Canada’s new Government supports the reduction of trans fats as a way to ensure that Canadians can reduce their risk of heart disease and be healthy today and in the future,” Clement said. “We are giving industry two years to reduce trans fats to the lowest levels possible as recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force. If significant progress has not been made over the next two years, we will regulate to ensure the levels are met.”

Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and co-chair of the Task Force, described Health Canada’s adoption of the Trans Fat Task Force recommendations as “an important step towards the elimination of processed trans fats in our foods”.

Canada’s Trans Fat Task Force is a multi-stakeholder organisation which is led by Health Canada in association with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. It submitted its recommendations to the Government last summer.

Canada was the first country to require trans fat levels in pre-packaged food be included on the mandatory nutrition label.