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Have a heart and label trans-fats

27 October 2009

Have a heart and label trans-fats

The failure of the Trans-Tasman Food body to require labelling of artery-clogging, artificially produced trans-fats in foods will lead to poor health outcomes for New Zealand, said Green Party MP Sue Kedgley.

Trans-fat is found in deep fried fast foods and processed foods such as biscuits and pastry goods. It is created by a process called hydrogenation in which vegetable oils are heated to high temperatures and hydrogen is bubbled through it to harden the fat so it will have a long shelf life.

“Trans-fats raise blood cholesterol levels and clog arteries, and as such, pose a risk to our health. Consumption of this artificially produced fat has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease,” said Green Party Food spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

A survey by Food Standards Australia New Zealand found that up to 15% of New Zealanders are eating dangerously high amounts of trans-fat laden foods. However, the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council has decided against any regulations or even labelling of the trans-fat acid content of food.

“The Ministerial Council is denying consumers the right to know what is in our food, and denying us our right to avoid foods that may be harmful to our health,” said Ms Kedgley.

“We should have mandatory labels declaring the trans-fat content of foods, as we do with saturated fats, and warn consumers about the risks trans-fats pose to our health.

“Other countries have taken the simple step of requiring mandatory labelling. But our Government is dragging its feet and denying consumers their right to choose foods without these dangerous fats.”

Note: The Health Select Committee Inquiry into Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes recommended that all packaged food should identify levels of trans-fat in foods, as they do for saturated fats.

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