4 products labelled 'zero trans fat' found to contain trans fat: Case

Flora Original (500g) and Flora Light (500g).
Flora Original (500g) and Flora Light (500g).PHOTOS: CASE
Sunny Meadow Spread with Canola Oil (500g) and Sunny Meadow Spread with Olive Oil (500g).
Sunny Meadow Spread with Canola Oil (500g) and Sunny Meadow Spread with Olive Oil (500g).PHOTOS: CASE

SINGAPORE - Trans fat was detected in four products despite them being labelled "zero trans fat", the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has found.

They are: Flora Light 500G, Flora Original 500G, Sunny Meadow Spread with Canola Oil 500G, and Sunny Meadow Spread with Olive Oil 500G.

Case said in a media release on Friday (March 10) that it has shared the findings with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) which will be making an investigation into the matter.

Food that has less than 0.5 per cent of trans fat can be labelled "trans-fat free" but not zero trans fat, according to AVA's regulations.

The findings came from a survey of 20 common household margarine and vegetable oil-based spreads sold in Singapore, which was conducted in July 2016 to find out if these products' trans fat contents were within the 2 per cent limit imposed by the AVA.

Case said the trans fat levels in all samples were within the statutory limit. However, some samples had a higher trans fat content than the amount declared in their food labels.

"Following that, we sought clarification from the relevant manufacturers and/or importers. Insofar as the manufacturers and/or importers were able to substantiate their declared values, the differences between their declared values and our test results can be attributed as variance due to sample handling and analytical methodology," said Mr Lim Biow Chuan, president of Case.

Trans fat is a by-product produced in the industrial manufacture of margarines and vegetable oil-based spreads.

The consumption of trans fat raises the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Research also suggests that an individual with a high LDL cholesterol level is at a higher risk of developing heart diseases.

The World Health Organisation advises that less than 2g of trans fat should be consumed daily.

Mr Lim said Case was prompted to survey the level of trans fat in margarines and vegetable oil-based spreads because the National Nutrition Surveys 2004 and 2010 showed that three in 10 Singaporean adults exceeded this recommended limit. It was also found that the most common fat spreads used by adult Singapore residents was soft margarine.

In light of the findings, Mr Lim encouraged consumers to check the trans fat content on product labels when shopping.

"Consumers are also encouraged to go for spreads with the Healthier Choice Symbol administered by the Health Promotion Board," he said.