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Quick serve restaurants: reducing fat

A roundtable of Australian Quick Serve Restaurant Industry representatives met on September 26th in Sydney to report on their progress in removing artificial trans fatty acids from their products.

Chaired by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Brett Mason, the roundtable which included representatives from the Baking Industry Association, The Coffee Club, Domino’s Pizza, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Jesters Pies, McDonalds and Pizza Hut, was established to seek a further voluntary reduction in trans fatty acids, while maintaining food quality and taste and without increasing the amount of saturated fats in the Australian diet.

A survey of roundtable participants showed that a majority had active plans and strategies in place to manage trans fatty acids in their products.

According to Senator Mason, the roundtable has agreed to further reduce the levels of trans fatty acids in their products and also, over the next three years, to replace saturated fats with healthier oils and fats.

Senator Mason is pleased with the progress made by the Quick Serve Restaurants since March 2007, when the Australian Government called this roundtable.

Troubles with trans fats

There is a scientific link between the consumption of trans fatty acids and the risk factors for heart disease.

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%, and 0.7% for New Zealanders, which was well below the goal of 1% proposed by the World Health Organisation, and the same as, or lower than, most overseas countries.

Heart Foundation assists industry

The Australian National Heart Foundation provided a useful ‘3 Step Guide’ to members of the roundtable.

This guide aims to assist the Australian Food Service Industry reduce both trans and saturated fats.

It lists where trans and saturated fats can be found on the menu and practical ways on how to reduce them, including menu planning, healthier alternatives and healthier types of oils to use.

Review: 2009

A review in early 2009 will assess the progress made in reducing artificial trans fatty acids in the food supply.

If sufficient progress is not made, regulatory intervention will 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.

According to Senator Mason, Australians are still consuming well in excess of the amount of saturated fats recommended by the WHO.

The roundtable agreed to meet in six months to report on progress made in reducing the levels of saturated fats in their products through the use of best-practice oils.

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