Tuesday, March 10, 2009

B.C. Restaurants Trans Fat Free By Sept. 09


B.C. is the first province in Canada to restrict trans fat in all prepared and served foods in B.C. restaurants, Minister of Healthy Living Sport Mary Polak announced today.

“We’re following through on our throne speech commitment to restrict trans fat by the year 2010 because we know trans fat is harmful and this is an effective way we can protect British Columbians’ health,” said Mary Polak, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport. “By the time we hold the Olympics in 2010, we want every British Columbian and every visitor to our province to know the food they order in restaurants or eat at schools is trans fat-free.”

Trans fat comes in two forms - naturally occurring in meat or dairy products and industrially-produced, in oils, spreads and margarines and hidden in prepared foods like donuts, croissants and other baked goods. Trans fat increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of bad cholesterol and lowering levels of good cholesterol, leading to clogged arteries.

Introducing the regulation to restrict industrially-produced trans fat is part of B.C.’s new Public Health Act. This regulation follows the recommendations of Health Canada’s Trans Fat Task Force. As it is technically impossible to eliminate trans fat completely, the regulation restricts the amount of trans fat content of oils and spreadable margarines to two per cent of total fat and restricts trans fat content of all other foods to five per cent of total fat content of the food. The Province has worked with the Heart and Stroke Foundation for the past year to consult with industry here in the province and prepare them for this change.

“We know trans fat is considered the most dangerous type of dietary fat because it raises the risk of heart disease,” said Bobbe Wood, President and CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon. “The partnership between government and the Heart and Stroke Foundation to restrict trans fat will help people in eating healthier, no matter which food service establishment they will eat at in B.C.”

All food service establishments that require a permit to operate a food service in B.C. must comply with the new regulation by Sept. 30, 2009. This includes restaurants, delis, cafeterias, educational institutions, health care institutions, schools, special events, and bakeries. Packaged foods sold directly to the consumer that have a federally-approved Nutrition Facts Table on the package are exempt from the regulation.

A new website and other supports will be set up within the month to help the B.C. food industry make the changes.

Restricting trans fat is the latest in a number of changes B.C. has made to support British Columbians to avoid chronic illnesses and live healthier lives, including:

  • introducing mandatory physical activity for students in 2007.
  • eliminating the sale of junk food in all elementary and middle schools in 2008.
  • banning smoking in all public spaces and workplaces in 2008.

ActNow BC, the Province’s healthy living initiative, supports British Columbians in making healthy lifestyle choices, providing information to support better nutrition, physical activity, smoke-free living and healthy pregnancies. For more information go to: www.actnowbc.ca


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