ARCHIVED - First Set of Monitoring Data

The results from the first set of monitoring data dated December 2007, include data of food samples that have been analyzed for trans fats from 2005-2007.

Samples of foods from fast food and restaurant establishments include:

Samples of pre-packaged foods from grocery stores include:

Highlights from the First Set of Monitoring Data

When the first set of monitoring data is compared to the Task Force recommendations, we note that:

  • In all food categories targeted in this first set of data, we have seen success in reducing the level of trans fats, in many cases, to the recommended limit of 5% of the total fat content.
  • We are encouraged by the fact that, in many cases, the reduction in trans fats has been achieved by finding healthier alternatives and not increasing the levels of saturated fat.

As seen in the figures below, here is a snapshot of foods meeting the 5% trans fat of total fat limit in 2006 (Figure 1) and 2007 (Figure 2): (new graphs)

Figure 1

Figure 1. Percent of pre-packaged foods from grocery stores meeting the 5% trans fat of total fat limit in 2006*.

* The foods that were sampled represented the top selling brands for each food category and accounted for more than 80% of sales within that food category. In earlier surveys, these food categories were some of the ones that contributed the highest amounts of trans.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Percent of foods from restaurants and fast food chains meeting the 5% trans fat of total fat limit in 2007**.

** The foods that were analyzed were sampled from the major fast food chains.

Figure 3 depicts some examples of food categories where progress has been made from 2005-2007.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Percent of foods, both pre-packaged and from fast food and restaurants chains, meeting the 5% trans fat of total fat limit from 2005-2007.

Sample Collection

The individual products were chosen for analysis since they represented the majority of products sold within a particular food category. For pre-packaged foods, the products that were analysed accounted for more than 80% of the market share within that food category. The foods from restaurant and fast food establishments were sampled from the major chains.

Food samples for the first set of results of the Trans Fat Monitoring Program were collected from major grocery stores and fast food and restaurant establishments in Scarborough, Ontario; Ottawa, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Delta, British Columbia; Greenfield, Quebec, and Brossard, Quebec.

From grocery stores, samples consisted of three consumer sized packages from the same lot. For most food categories, at least two samples from different lots were purchased. A small portion from each of the three packages was taken and homogenised to form a combined sample for each lot. Fat analyses were performed on each combined sample. The values given in the data tables are the averages for the combined samples. Samples of foods from fast food and restaurant establishments consisted of a single portion from a single lot. The samples were ground and stored frozen until fat analysis. The analysis was conducted in three Health Canada laboratories (Ottawa, Toronto, and Winnipeg).

Analytical Methodology

The food samples were analysed by the recommended method for trans fat analyses in Canada, the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) Method 996.06 (1). This laboratory procedure and methodology is used to determine the total fat and fatty acids in a wide variety of foods that require nutrition labelling in Canada and the United States.

Reference:

1) AOAC Official Method 996.06. Fat (Total, Saturated, and Unsaturated) in foods, hydrolytic extraction gas chromatographic method, Revised 2001. In: Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC International 18th Edition (Horwitz, W, ed.).

Questions and Answers Related to the First Set of Monitoring Data

Question 1: How was the monitoring carried out for the first set of data?

The Department has been analyzing the trans fat content of foods intermittently since the 1990s. The analysis of trans fat in foods increased at the time the Trans Fat Task Force was established to support their work.

The first set of data represents food samples that were collected from major grocery stores or fast food and restaurant establishments in Scarborough, Ontario; Ottawa, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Delta, British Columbia; Greenfield, Quebec, and Brossard, Quebec. The analysis of the fat content was conducted in three Health Canada laboratories (Ottawa, Toronto, and Winnipeg).

In certain cases, where products had been reformulated, companies provided Health Canada with reliable and accurate data about the specific reformulated products. The methodology used by these companies to analyse the trans fat content in the reformulated products was consistent with the methods and standards used by Health Canada for the Trans Fat Monitoring Program. The reformulated products are identified in the data tables with footnotes.

Question 2: How often does the sampling occur for the monitoring program?

The first data set represents samples that were collected in 2005, 2006, and spring 2007 (as part of routine departmental analysis of food, analysis that was done to support the work of the Trans Fat Task Force, and as part of the monitoring program initiated in the spring of 2007).

The Department will continue to post the data from its ongoing monitoring program over the next two years. The department plans to publish the data twice per year in the same format for each food analyzed. The next round of sampling is underway and we anticipate the next set of data will be published in the spring 2008.

Question 3: Why were these product categories chosen?

These product categories were chosen since they represented foods that were significant sources of trans fats (i.e. foods that either contained high levels of trans fats or foods with lower levels of trans fats that were consumed in large quantities by a large number of consumers).

Question 4: Why were these individual products chosen?

The individual products were chosen for analysis since they represented the majority of products sold within a particular food category. For pre-packaged foods, the products that were analysed accounted for more than 80% of the market share within that food category. The foods from restaurant and fast food establishments were sampled from the major chains.

Question 5: Why are 2005 and 2006 data included in the data tables?

The inclusion of data from 2005 and 2006 is to help show that ongoing progress has been made to reduce the levels of trans fats in many pre-packaged food categories since mandatory nutrition labelling regulations came into effect and the work of the Trans Fat Task Force began.

Question 6: In the case where a product was sampled more than once, why are there variations in the levels of fats?

The slight differences in the levels of fat found in a specific product can be attributed to how the product was processed on that given day (i.e. even the slightest variation in the length of time a product is fried in frying oil can result in small differences in the levels of trans fat).

Question 7: Has saturated fat been used to replace trans fats?

In all food categories targeted, we have seen success in reducing the level of trans. In many cases, this has been achieved by finding healthier alternatives and not increasing the levels of saturated fat.

Question 8: What alternatives are being used?

In meeting the recommended limits, most companies and food manufacturers are managing to replace trans fats with healthier alternatives such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

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