Why Denmark doesn’t need trans fat labelling?

January 26, 2007

The chorus of calls for compulsory trans fat labelling in Singapore continues.

Halimah Yacob, MP for Jurong East GRC, made the call in Parliament on Tuesday. Today, two more letters calling for trans fat labelling appeared in the newspapers, one in ST Forum, the other in TODAY.

TODAY also carried my commentary about how “positive labelling” often confounds and confuses consumers.

It is clear that many Singaporeans are not satisfied with the decision by the Health Ministry and the Health Promotion Board not to legislate compulsory trans fat labelling – at least for the moment.

Amidst all these calls, I wonder if anyone has noticed that Denmark – the world leader in acting against trans fats – did not impose any labelling requirement?

Here in Singapore, many see trans fat labelling as, at least, “the first step”. But Denmark had skipped this first step altogether and simply went ahead to ban trans fats.


Says Steen Stender, chairman of the Danish Nutrition Council’s sub-group dealing with trans fats and health:

“It’s been cited by industry that people won’t read labels and – when they do read them – they will not necessarily understand these labels. This is a problem. Instead of warning consumers about trans fats and telling them what it is, we’ve simply removed it.”

Indeed, understanding food labels can be a problem. It is both an art and a science. It requires, among other things, a knowledge of food science, chemistry, vocabulary, language nuances and the law. If you are not savvy, chances are you won’t fully understand what the information presented really means.

Steen Stender feels that trans fat labelling is the wrong approach. And he has strong words for countries like the US that introduced trans fat labelling.

“As they say in North America: ‘You can put poison in food, if you label it properly’.

“Here in Denmark, we remove the posion and people don’t have to know anything about trans fatty acids.”

Now, isn’t this an effective and efficient solution?

Why is it that the Singapore government, which prides itself for effectiveness and efficiency, will not adopt such a solution?

One comment

  1. Thanks for showing us that we are very far behind the South Koreans and way less concerned of about health countrymen than the Danes who jsut went straight to banning it. I wonder why this second point wasn’t emphasized by the local MSM?

    I read your Today article and forwarded it to some friends. Hopefully they will be bothered to be wary of it.

    I am surprised that ST published my letter. But then it is probably the lone letter on that topic anyway. Singaporeans seem by and large unconcerned I guess. Hopefully attention you brought would change that.

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