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Health Canada announces ban on main source of artificial trans fats

Health Canada is taking the final steps toward a ban on the main source of artificial trans fats in Canadian diets.

JOHN MARSHALL MANTEL/NYT

Health Canada is taking the final steps toward a ban on the main source of artificial trans fats in Canadian diets.

The department says it is banning partially hydrogenated oils or PHOs, which are the main source of industrially produced trans fats in all food sold in the country, including those foods prepared in restaurants.

The oils are used in the production of pastries, other baked goods and some packaged goods as a means of extending shelf life.

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The ban will come into force on Sept. 15, 2018, in order to give the food industry enough time to find suitable alternatives.

After that date, it will be illegal to sell any food containing PHOs.

Health Canada says trans fats raise levels of so-called "bad" or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood, while reducing levels of "good" or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

The substances have been under fire for years and the food industry had been phasing them out on a voluntary basis.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor welcomed the ban.

"Eliminating the main source of industrially produced trans fat from the food supply is a major accomplishment and a strong new measure that will help to protect the health of Canadians," she said in a statement.

The measure was also welcomed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

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"While trans fats levels have been decreasing, they are still high in baked goods and foods often consumed by children and other vulnerable populations," the foundation said in a statement.

"Canadians should not have to worry about consuming foods that are not safe to eat."

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