A Canada-wide ban on trans fats goes into effect today making it illegal for manufacturers to add PHOs to food sold.

It can be hard to keep all the different kinds of fats and their effects on the body straight, but trans fat is categorically one of the worst.

The harm that trans fats cause is two-fold. Trans fats both raise “bad” cholesterol levels (low-density lipoprotein) in the blood, and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) in the blood.

Trans fats, usually a product of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), are often found in margarine, shortening.commercially baked goods, like store-bought cookies, and other baked goods to lengthen shelf life.

Beyond banning trans fats, PHOs have been added to Canada’s List of Contaminants and Other Adulterating Substances in Food.

“As minister of health, I am very concerned with the rise in heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in Canada,” said Ginette Taylor in a press release. “Health Canada’s ban on partially hydrogenated oils in the food supply is part of the Government of Canada’s action to help protect Canadians from diet-related chronic disease.”

The Process

The ban now makes it illegal for manufacturers to add PHOs to food sold in Canada, and extends to imported food and food that is prepared in service establishments.

The ban was introduced last year to give the industry time to adapt.

Similarly, there will be a two year phase-out period in which products containing PHOs can still be sold, so long as they were manufactured before today, September 17, 2018.

The ban and its phase-out period will be enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), that will conduct inspections, audits, and samplings.

In May of this year the World Health Organization ambitiously released plans to eliminate trans fat from the global food supply, and Canada’s ban coincides with that vision.

“This important and final step will eliminate these heart-clogging fats from our food supply, benefiting the health of all people in Canada by reducing the number of heart attacks and saving lives,” said Yves Savoie, Chief Executive Officer of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, in the same release.

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