Proposals prompted by Canadian "health concerns"

Proposals prompted by Canadian "health concerns"

The Canadian government has published proposals to prohibit the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in foods by the summer of 2018.

Health Canada, the federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, is proposing adding PHOs, a source of trans fats in food, to the country's "list of contaminants and other adulterating substances in foods". 

Health Canada said its announcement is designed to "allow industry stakeholders time to phase-out the use of PHOs". The proposed definition would apply to PHOs used in foods destined for human consumption and to "PHOs added to foods for minor use applications or technical purposes such as processing aids, pan release agents, etc".

"The consumption of trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in Canada," Health Canada said. According to the Department, efforts to reduce trans fat intakes of Canadians since the early 2000s, have "proven successful in reducing trans fat levels in the Canadian food supply".

However, Health Canada said: "Some foods still contain industrially produced trans fats, namely PHOs. These foods include some commercially baked goods, such as cookies, some shortenings and certain types of margarines. This can be a health concern for Canadians who choose these foods regularly, and for vulnerable sub-populations who are at risk for higher trans fat intakes, such as children and teens, Canadians in remote areas and price sensitive consumers."