Government food inspectors have collected samples of packaged food sold over the counter to check whether labels truthfully indicate the amount of trans fats in the products.
“Food processors or suppliers who are found to have falsely stated trans fats content on labels will be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 in accordance with Article 17 of the Act Governing Food Sanitation [食品衛生管理法],” said Chien Hsi-wen (簡希文), a section chief in the Department of Health’s Food and Drug Administration, amid reports that many manufacturers of packaged food available in Taiwan have not faithfully indicated the amount of trans fats contained in their products.
Chang Li-chuan (張麗娟), president of the Tainan chapter of the Taiwan Dietitian Association, was recently quoted by local media as saying she doubted food ingredient labels seen on local store shelves contained accurate information about trans fats.
“Whenever I go shopping, I tend to carefully read ingredient labels on packaged biscuits, potato chips, margarine and non-dairy creamer because all of these things are known to contain high amounts of trans fats,” Chang said.
Much to her surprise, however, the labels of most of those items showed they had no trans fats.
“I doubt that suppliers have honestly identified the ingredients in their products,” Chang said, adding that many local consumers may have unwittingly consumed large amounts of trans fats.
Amid public health concerns, the DOH amended the food safety act to require food processors to identify trans fats content on their product labels beginning on Jan. 1, 2008.
Nevertheless, the law allows food processors to make a “zero trans fats” claim if the product contains less than 0.3 grams of trans fats per 100 grams serving size.
Chien advised consumers to refrain from consuming too many foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and shortenings.