Fri, Jan 23, 2015 - Page 4 News List

John Tung Foundation issues call for regulations on labels for butter products

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The John Tung Foundation urged the government to stipulate regulations mandating clear labeling of butter products to avoid consumer confusion.

The foundation said that while the first thing that springs to the mind of most people when hearing the word butter or cream is processed milk fat, only 18 of the 37 butter products it randomly tested recently were actually made of animal fat.

“There are three kinds of butter products available in the market — those made from animal fat, vegetable oil or a combination of animal fat and vegetable oil. These products can be either solid or liquid,” the foundation told a press conference earlier in the week.

However, the foundation said all of these products were labeled as “butter” regardless of their ingredients or processing methods, leaving consumers puzzled and clueless when shopping for such items.

In addition, most consumers are of the opinion that butter made of vegetable oil, commonly known as margarine, does not pose a health risk to their cardiovascular system because it is often advertised as cholesterol free.

“What they do not know is that in order to allow vegetable oil to solidify at room temperature, manufacturers have to subject it to a chemical process called hydrogenation, during which trans-fats or a high level of saturated fats could form in the process,” the foundation said.

Both substances could increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, strokes and high blood pressure, it added.

Foundation food nutrition section director Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉) said there are many food products that consumers might not know contain butter, or are thought to be made of milk fat-based butter, including cookies, toast, corn soup, pasta, risotto and ice cream.

“Consumers are urged not to consume butter products in excessive quantities, opt for natural oils, such as oil from olives, nuts and fish, as their main sources of fat,” Hsu said.

“People should pay attention to the nutritional information on butter labels before purchase,” Hsu added.

“In the meantime, relevant government agencies should stipulate a thorough set of standards for the labeling of butter products to ensure that consumers have all the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions,” Hsu said.

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