Taiwan to legislate trans fat labellingFebruary 5, 2007
Once again, here’s some trans fats news that you will read about first here on this blog, before – if ever – it gets carried in the MSM (main stream media).
Taiwan’s Department of Health announced on 29 January 2007 that it plans to legislate trans fat labelling by mid-2007. Packaged foods will be the first item slated for mandatory labeling, followed progressively by the fast-food industry and smaller food outlets. Food manufacturers will be given time to adjust to the new labelling requirements.
This makes Taiwan the second Asian country, after South Korea – and the fourth country in the world – to legislate trans fat labelling. You can read about South Korea’s trans fat labelling laws on this blog or at my website, www.stop-trans-fat.com.
“It’s time to give consumers a choice,” said Cheng Hui-wen director of the Bureau of Food Safety (BFS) at the Department of Health. “Studies over the last 10 years increasingly show that the consumption of trans fats affects the cardiovascular system and other organs.”
Cheng Hui-wen added, however, that trans fat labelling in Taiwan might not extend to corner pastry shops. The concern is that small shops would simply switch to using pork lard if legislation on trans fat labelling is applied to them.
This position is not surprising given that most mainstream scientists and health authorities still view pork lard and other saturated fats to be just as harmful as trans fats, even though pork lard had been consumed by the Chinese for thousands of years without causing any health problems.
However, it is significant that the Taiwan Department of Health has decided to proceed with trans fat labelling in Taiwan in spite of such concerns.
In contrast, health authorities in Singapore cite such concerns as reasons NOT to introduce trans fat labelling nor to impose other measures such as imposing a trans fats ban.
Taiwan’s health authorities are also mindful that measures to require trans fat labelling in Taiwan could affect businesses.
This is why the authorities are giving businesses ample notice – by first announcing their intention to officially legislate trans fat labelling in Taiwan later this year, and then actually implementing the new trans fat labelling requirements at a later date.
But while trans fat labelling in Taiwan will be made compulsory, it seems unlikely that the health authorities there will impose a ban on trans fats.
Cheng Hui-wen said consumers still have the right to make a choice even if it affects their health. “Drinking alcohol is bad for your health, but we do not ban overdrinking,” Cheng Hui-wen said. “Let consumers weigh the pros and cons and make their own decision.”
Following the announcement on trans fat labelling in Taiwan, the Taiwanese Consumers’ Foundation urged fast food companies to voluntarily abandon the use of trans fats in food preparation.
In April 2006, the Consumers’ Foundation surveyed 36 foods sold in Taiwan, including margarine, potato chips, cookies, French fries, fried chicken and frozen bread.
“Taiwan has clearly not come to grips with this potential killer,” the Consumers’ Foundation noted. “In Taiwan, the term trans fats is still unknown to most people.”
This makes the Taiwan government’s moves to legislate trans fat labelling all the more significant – because it is doing it without any consumer pressure.
Again, this is in sharp contrast to the situation in Singapore where consumers have been calling for trans fat labelling but the government health authorities repeatedly say that they will not do so.