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Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct;100(4):1116-23. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.088732. Epub 2014 Aug 6.

trans Fatty acids in the Canadian food supply: an updated analysis.

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From the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.



Dietary trans fatty acids (TFAs) increase the risk of heart disease. In 2007, Canada set voluntary TFA limits for industrial TFAs added to food and encouraged substitution of TFAs with unsaturated fats during reformulation. No longitudinal follow-up assessment of TFA amounts in foods has occurred in Canada since termination of a government-led Trans Fat Monitoring Program (TFMP).


The objective was to conduct an updated assessment and longitudinally evaluate TFA amounts in the food supply and to determine whether saturated fats have replaced TFAs in reformulation.


This was a cross-sectional study that used 3 databases: TFMP (Health Canada, 2005-2009; n = 921), the University of Toronto Food Label Information Program (2010-2011; n = 5544), and the Restaurant Database (2010; n = 4272). Outcomes were TFAs as a percentage of fat, proportion of foods meeting TFA limits, and saturated fat amounts in foods with high or low TFAs.


The proportion of foods meeting TFA limits improved from 75% in 2005-2009 to 97% in 2010-2011, particularly in the following packaged foods: croissants (25% to 100%), pies (36% to 98%), cakes (43% to 90%), and garlic spreads (33% to 100%). Most restaurant categories assessed by the TFMP had 100% of foods meeting TFA limits. Some categories had a large proportion that exceeded TFA limits: dairy-free cheeses (100%), frosting (72.0%), lard and shortening (66.7%), coffee whiteners (66.7%), and restaurant-prepared biscuits and scones (47.4%). Saturated fat amounts were significantly higher (P < 0.05) among some foods with the lowest TFAs, such as cookies, brownies and squares, cakes with pudding/mousse, dessert toppings, and lard and shortening.


There has been an impressive improvement in TFA amounts in the Canadian food supply since the termination of the TFMP. However, action by the food industry is required to reduce TFAs in foods that exceed the recommended TFA limits and to minimize the use of saturated fats in replacing TFAs during reformulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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