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Call to 'harden up' on fatty acids

Call to 'harden up' on fatty acids

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling on the Government to follow the United States, and bring in mandatory labelling of the 'trans fat' content of potato chips, biscuits, crisps and similar products.

"This would give consumers a better idea of how unhealthy many food products are," Ms Kedgley said. Under new regulations, food labels in the United States will have to reveal how much artery-clogging trans fat is contained in food products. "I call on Health Minister Annette King to ask Food Standards Australia New Zealand to introduce similar mandatory labelling for trans fats (or trans fatty acids) in food products sold in New Zealand," Ms Kedgley said.

"At present, there is no requirement in New Zealand for manufacturers to declare trans fat content, even though trans fats can be as bad as their better-known counterpart - saturated fats - from a nutritional and heart health point of view.

"Many studies have found that trans fats raise blood cholesterol levels and clog arteries. Surely consumers have the right to know this, and to choose foods without these dangerous fats.

"As in the United States, manufacturers here could be given a reasonable amount of time to introduce the new labelling or change their products altogether. It would be an incentive for companies to reformulate their products, so they are healthier," Ms Kedgley said.

The trans fat process, called hydrogenation, exposes vegetable or fish oils to high temperatures and pressure, and bubbles hydrogen through the oils.

The resulting trans fats are found in all sorts of products, including biscuits, crisps, cakes, snacks and margarine. Hydrogenated oils may also be used for frying hot chips and other takeaway foods.

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