It’s been almost 15 years in the making, but the time has finally come: artificial trans fats are now banned in Canada.
More technically, Health Canada has added partially hydrogenated oils, which are the main source of trans fats in what we eat – to its List of Contaminants and Other Adulterating Substances. Other notable items poisons on the list include arsenic, fluoride, and lead.
Partially hydrogenated oils are usually found in pastries and other baked goods, as well as a host of packaged foods. They’re the reason some breads on your shelf can outlive the family dog. And they’re pretty awful for you, lowering the “good” cholesterol in your body while increasing the amount of bad cholesterol. They also lead to inflammation and associated diseases, as well as weight gain. Basically, when some insane triple-stacked sandwich is referred to as “heart-clogging,” chances are trans fats are the reason.
“This is a very important milestone in terms of nutrition policy in Canada,” said Manuel Arango, the director of health policy and advocacy at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“What it means is that, moving forward, industry will not be able to manufacture or use partially hydrogenated oils that create artificial trans fats in the food supply. It will be completely prohibited in Canada.”
The issue was first brought to attention on the federal level in 2006. Retailers will now have a three-year grace period during which they can sell or discard existing inventory that violates the ban.
Denmark was the first country to ban trans fats back in 2004. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization called on countries around the world to enact similar bans by 2023. According to the WHO, trans fat intake can be attributed to 500,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease every year. Experts estimate Canada’s initiative can prevent 12,000 heart attacks over a 20-year period in our country.