China's health department aware of trans fat risks PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 November 2010 11:09

BEIJING -- The Ministry of Health has been working to evaluate the health risks of trans fat and might amend national standards for food preparation, said a ministry spokesman here Tuesday.

The ministry has brought together officials and experts to evaluate the impacts of trans fat on human health as well as monitor the intake of trans fat among the Chinese people, said Deng Haihua, the ministry spokesman, at a regular press conference.

"Based on the evaluation results, the ministry will amend the related standards according to the legal procedure," he said.

The remark was in response to recent media reports on the wider practice in the food processing industry of partially hydrogenating vegetable oils to replace natural animal fat.

The process of hydrogenating unsaturated plant fats, such as vegetable oils, produces trans fat, which may increase the risk of coronary heart diseases, noted officials.
According to monitoring carried out by the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2003, the average daily intake of trans fat per capita in China was 0.6 g.

"The intake of trans fat among Chinese is not as much as in western countries because of different diets," said Zhang Jian, research fellow of the institute.

However, a report issued by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2003 suggested that the intake of trans fat should not exceed 1 percent of the diet.

"It means the intake of trans fat should not exceed 2 g per person every day ," Zhang said.

But the increasing intake of western fast food and snacks in Chinese society has raised concerns about trans fat.

Zhao Lin, nutritionist with the People's Liberation Army General Hospital and senior consultant of the Health Ministry, was quoted by CCTV in a TV program last week as saying that trans fat has been widely found in processed food in China.

According to a survey by Zhao and his colleagues of 167 foods in 52 leading Chinese brands from 2005 to 2009, 95 percent of fast foods, cakes, bread and fried snacks, 90 percent of ice cream and 71 percent of biscuits, were found to contain trans fat.

"Many countries in Europe and North America have regulated the use of partially hydrogenated fats in foods, but the Chinese seemed not to realize the problem," he said in the TV interview.

Deng told the press conference that the ministry will tighten the management on food producers and supervise them to label the trans fat on the packages.