A ban on the main source of artificial trans fats took effect Monday.
Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are the main source of industry-produced trans fats, according to Health Canada, and are normally used to create a certain consistency in food or to increase shelf life.
They are often found in commercially baked goods, like store-bought cookies, as well as margarine and shortening.
The ban will be implemented with a two-year phase-in period. That means food manufactured after Sept. 17, 2018, will need to be PHO free, but food manufactured before that will continue to be on shelves for the next two years.
That allows for retailers to “exhaust stock,” a spokesperson for Health Canada told Global News.
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The ban affects food manufactured in Canada, as well as imported foods.
Officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be enforcing the ban.
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The Heart and Stroke Foundation called the ban a “great move” that will save lives.
The foundation says the fats raise so-called “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol.
“A high consumption of trans fats leads to a threefold increase in risk of death from heart disease,” a spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation told Global News.
The World Health Organization has also called for a worldwide decrease in PHOs, asking countries to ban trans fats within five years, and saying a ban could prevent 500,000 deaths a year.
Health Canada has required nutritional labels to include trans fats since 2002.
In 2007, then-health minister Tony Clement issued new recommendations for companies, which included voluntarily reducing trans fats in margarine to two per cent of total fat content, but the government at the time didn’t make it mandatory.
Since then, there’s been a few attempts to ban the PHOs but to little effect.
According to internal documents released in 2012, a 2009 attempt to ban trans fats was shut down by health minister Leona Aglukkaq. The main reason was that large food companies objected, Post Media reported at the time.
The U.S.’s trans fats ban went into effect in 2016.
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