Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 2 News List

DOH will not impose trans fat ban

, STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Taiwan has no plans to follow California’s lead and ban the use of trans fats, but will require clear labeling of food products containing fatty acids, a Department of Health official said on Saturday.

Hsieh Ting-hung (謝定宏), deputy director-general of the department’s Bureau of Safety, made the remarks after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill on Friday making California the first US state to ban the use of trans fats in restaurants.

Hsieh said the legislation was “a good direction to follow to enhance public health.”

Because of different dietary habits in the East and the West, however, “the bureau has no plans to ban their use,” he said.

The bureau would rigorously demand that food producers clearly label their products so that “consumers can make their own choices.”

He said that most trans fats consumed today are created industrially by partial hydrogenation of plant oils. The goal of partial hydrogenation is to add hydrogen atoms to cis-unsaturated fats, making them more saturated. These saturated fats have a higher melting point, which makes them attractive for baking and extends their shelf life.

Hsieh said, however, that the consumption of trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowering levels of “good,” or HDL, cholesterol.

He said that most advanced countries have asked that food products be labeled clearly and Taiwan would do the same.

In contrast with Western countries, where fast foods and bread are more popular, rice and noodles are staples in Taiwan, he said, adding that the consumption of trans fats in the East is substantially lower than in the West.

Since the heath threat from the consumption of trans fatty acids is lower in Taiwan than in the West, the department would not ban the use of trans fats, he said.

Compared with trans fats, the saturated fat in animal oil products pose a bigger health threat, he said.

He said that fat is one of the major nutrients and that while people should refrain from consuming too much trans fats or saturated fats, “they should not avoid them altogether.”

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