Bakers Journal

Self Regulating

December 3, 2007
By Jane Ayer

…regulating trans fats in the Canadian food supply

In June, after a year of meetings and conference calls and consultations, the Trans Fat Task Force released recommendations for regulating trans fats in the Canadian food supply. TRANSforming the Food Supply is the final report of the Trans Fat Task Force, co-chaired by Health Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The impact on the baking industry? Well, if the recommendations of the report are turned into law, the impact could be pretty massive. The report is suggesting trans fats limits of five per cent in baked goods. According to the report, the trans fat limit for commercial bakeries will be regulated based on the amount found in the final product. Because products produced by smaller, retail bakeries aren’t required to carry nutrition facts tables, their products will be regulated by the kind of ingredients they put into their products, essentially by the kind of ingredients they are able to buy. Baking Association of Canada president Paul Hetherington, himself a member of the task force, chats about the report in a Q & A on page 18.

Whether or not the government will adopt the recommendations and turn them into regulations has yet to be determined. And even if they do, it’ll be years before actual trans fat regulations would come into effect. But it really shouldn’t matter what the government decides to do. The industry is in the business of satisfying customers, selling food to customers that they actually want to buy. Many in the industry have started investigating the alternatives, just as many in the fats and oils business have developed alternatives (a flip through the pages of this magazine will offer up proof of that).

“From an industry perspective, regardless of what the government does, I think the reality is consumers have already spoken,” says Hetherington. “They’re saying they’re concerned about trans fats in their food and they’re looking for industry to reduce the trans as much as possible.”


In our annual cross country tour section (starting on page 24), we feature bakeries from all across the country who are doing what they can to please customers.

“We want to bake what customers want,” said Franklin Isaac, when I ask him about his customers’ trans fat concerns. He says some customers have already brought up the issue of trans fat to him and he’ll keep listening to what they want from him.

When McBuns owner Robert Caron had one customer mention a diet bread to him, he played around with a formula until he found one that was just right. And the bakery has also developed a niche by being flexible in minimum order amounts for its commercial accounts: they can order as much or as little as they need.

These are just two of the bakeries featured in our cross country tour, but they’re not the only ones looking to satisfy customers: in one way or another, all of the bakeries featured are looking to make their customers happy. They wouldn’t…they couldn’t be in business otherwise.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges to overcome when it comes to trans fats. Puff pastry, says Hetherington, is one area where the oil industry has yet to come up with a viable low trans or trans fat-free alternative. And there will be extra expenses involved and perhaps a little hair-pulling provoked by the formulation changes that will be required with the ingredient changes. But it’s all par for the course.

We’ll keep you updated on what happens with the task force report and what the government chooses to do with it. But whether or not these recommendations become regulations, it’s clear the consumer wants something different. And it’s clear the industry needs to deliver.

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