trans fat ban

SA’s trans-fat restrictions become law in August

Tough new restrictions on the use of artificial trans-fats will come into effect on August 17, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said.

According to a TimesLive report, foods in which the fats account for more than 2% of the oil content, ranging from spreads to biscuits, will be banned from supermarket shelves. Restaurants and catering companies will also not be permitted to use most trans-fats.

The final regulations relating to trans-fats in foodstuffs will come into effect on August 17, Motsoaledi said in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

“These regulations prohibit the sale, manufacturing and importation of any oils and fats containing partial hydrogenated fats and oils, also referred to as ‘trans-fat’, in processed foods [with] two grams per 100g thereof,” Motsoaledi added.

Some trans-fats occur naturally in meat or dairy but the new regulations refer to those trans-fats that are made artificially through a chemical process of partially hydrogenating vegetable oil to turn it into a semi-solid substance like margarine.

Though many biscuits and margarines have already cut out trans-fats, products such as Clover Butro* with 4.5g of trans-fat and Pick n Pay’s in-house brand of strawberry and raspberry jaffa cakes, with 2.1g of trans-fat in every 100g of fat, will be affected.

Trans-fats are said to increase the risk of heart disease. Canada and Denmark have already restricted trans-fats in foods to two grams per 100g of fat.

“Existing scientific evidence does not confirm that the same public health risks are associated with the consumption thereof, as in the case of partial hydrogenated fats and oils,” Motsoaledi said.

National Consumer Forum chairman Thami Bolani said his organisation was targeting trans-fats, high levels of sugar and salt in manufactured foods.

“These three things contribute to obesity and to other diseases. So this will contribute to ensuring that consumers have access to healthy food. We want the Department of Health to go even further and regulate the amounts of salt and sugar in food, especially in children’s foods,” said Bolani.

Woolworths said it had already removed trans-fatty acids from all its in-house food products in 2007.

Peter Arnold, Pick n Pay’s acting merchandise director, said: “All products sold at Pick n Pay will comply with the proposed legislation by August 17.”

“Products which do not meet the 2% maximum for industrially produced trans-fats will be removed by the deadline,” said Shoprite-Checkers spokesman Sarita van Wyk.

Source: TimesLive

* Clovers subsequently responded to this article in a letter to the newspaper, pointing out that its products will be unaffected by the new trans-fat regulation, as they are only applicable to “industrially produced trans fatty acids”. Natural trans fatty acids are not affected.

Clover says: “All Clover products are constantly tested and comply with all foodstuff legislation.”