Experts: who needs 'em?

Trans fats, called "the worst of the worst" of food ingredients, have been regulated all over the world. And yet Canada's Conservative government, after promising to cut them in processed foods, has continued to side with industry over the advice of its own experts.

This position just got a whole lot harder to defend. That's because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday it was cracking down on trans fats, one of the leading causes of heart disease in the U.S.

If enacted, the proposal to declare partially hydrogenated oils (the source of trans fats) no longer "generally recognized as safe" will result in their elimination in foods sold in the U.S.

Back in the 2007, the Conservative government, acting on the advice of an expert panel, promised to bring in regulations if Health Canada's voluntary approach to reduce trans fats in foods didn't work. When the voluntary approach failed, the government broke its promise.

Then, it ignored the advice of its own advisory panel to renew monitoring of trans-fat levels in processed foods and send a "strong signal" to companies that regulations would be on the table if levels didn't drop.

The Conservative government said no, telling the food industry it need not worry about regulations any time soon. It didn't matter that heart disease was responsible for 29 per cent of all Canadian deaths.

So here we are. The FDA looks poised to take strong action, based on a finding by the Institute of Medicine that "there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fats." 

The Conservative government's motto? Experts: who needs 'em?

Photo: joelshine2. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.

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