Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing
Senator the Hon. Brett Mason
Quick serve restaurant roundtable agrees to reduce transfats and saturated fats
(26 September 2007)
A roundtable of Australian Quick Serve Restaurant Industry representatives met today to report on their progress in removing artificial trans fatty acids from their products.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Brett Mason, who chaired the roundtable, said he was delighted that the Quick Serve Restaurant industry had responded so quickly on this important public health initiative.
“ I’m excited by the progress made by the Roundtable of Quick Serve Restaurants for their active initiatives undertaken so far to reduce the level of trans fatty acids without an associated increase in the saturated fat content,” Senator Mason said.
“The Australian Government saw this as a priority in March (2007) when it called this roundtable. I am pleased to see so much progress made in such a short time.
“There is a scientific link between the consumption of trans fatty acids and the risk factors for heart disease. These acids not only increase bad cholesterol in our blood, a key indicator for heart disease, they may also decrease good cholesterol.
“Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) conducted a formal scientific review of trans fatty acids in the food supply and reported back to the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council in May 2007.
“The report found that the contributions of trans fatty acids to energy intakes of Australians was 0.6 per cent, and 0.7 per cent for New Zealanders, which was well below the goal of 1 per cent proposed by the World Health Organization, and the same as, or lower than, most countries overseas,” Senator Mason said.
The roundtable was established to seek a further voluntary reduction in trans fatty acids, while maintaining food quality and taste. The reduction of trans fatty acids should not result in an increase in saturated fats in the Australian diet.
A survey of roundtable participants also showed that a majority had active plans and strategies in place to manage trans fatty acids in their products.
“The roundtable has given an undertaking to further reduce the levels of trans fatty acids in their products and also, over the next three years, to work on using healthier oils and fats that will also reduce saturated fats,” Senator Mason said.
“The Australian National Heart Foundation has provided a useful ‘3 Step Guide’ to members of the roundtable. It is a guide to the Australian Food Service Industry on reducing both trans and saturated fats. It lists where trans and saturated fats can be found on the menu and practical ways about how to reduce them, including menu planning, healthier alternatives and healthier types of oils to use.
“I woud recommend this guide not just to the major fast-food companies but also to smaller businesses, such as local takeaways and fish and chip shops,” Senator Mason said.
He said a review in early 2009 would assess progress in reducing artificial trans fatty acids in the food supply. If sufficient progress was not made, regulatory intervention would be the next step.
With progress firmly under way in reducing artificial transfats, Senator Mason raised the issue of tackling saturated fats with the roundtable.
“Australians are still consuming well in excess of the amount of saturated fats recommended by the WHO,” Senator Mason said. “It is important, when we reduce artificial trans fatty acids in our food supply, that we do it in the context of a balanced diet and also focus on reducing the equally unhealthy saturated fats such as palm oil, tallow or lard.
“This is where we see the role of the Australia New Zealand Collaboration on Transfats continuing. The roundtable agreed with my proposal that we meet in six months for members to report on their progress in reducing the levels of saturated fats in their products through the use of best-practice oils.”
Industry representatives, which included the Baking Industry Association, The Coffee Club, Domino's Pizza, Eagle Boys Pizza, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Jesters Pies, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, La Porchetta, Oporto, Red Rooster and Subway, reported on iniatives to further reduce trans fatty acids. These iniatives build on work undertaken by the industry over a number of years. Oils industry representatives at the roundtable included Goodman Fielder, Peerless Foods, Unilever Food Solutions and the Australian Oilseeds Federation.
The Collaboration on Transfats was established in early 2007 and includes representatives of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, the Dietitians Association of Australia, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) and FSANZ.
Its primary aim is to cooperate in reducing artificial trans fatty acids in New Zealand and Australian foods without causing an associated increase in saturated fats. The group will promote wide implementation of industry and public health initiatives to reduce the levels of trans fatty acids and raise consumer awareness and understanding.
A fact sheet on artificial trans fatty acids can be found on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website at http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/newsroom/factsheets/factsheets2007/transfattyacidsmay203552.cfm
The Australian Guide to healthy eating is at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/wcms/Publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-food-guide-index.htm
Media contact: Carolyn Martin, Senator Mason’s Office, 0423 826 768.
Lydia Buchtmann, FSANZ, or 0411 268 525.