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Food and Nutrition

Trans Fat Monitoring Program

The Trans Fat Monitoring Program was established to analyze the trans fat content of foods that were, as indicated by earlier surveys, significant sources of trans fats, i.e. foods with high levels of trans fats or foods with lower levels of trans fats that were consumed in large quantities by a large number of consumers. The analysis of food samples is on-going and the results from the program will be posted approximately every six months on the Health Canada website.

The data tables include information on the total fat, the trans fat, and the saturated fat levels in foods.

The tables include information on saturated and trans fats, since scientific evidence has shown that both dietary saturated and trans fats can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Thus, companies and food manufacturers are encouraged to replace trans fats with healthier alternatives such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and to not replace trans fat with saturated fats.

The Results from the Fourth Set of Monitoring Data were posted in December 2009.

The Results from the Third Set of Monitoring Data were posted in February 2009.

The Results from the Second Set of Trans Fat Monitoring Data were posted in July 2008.

The Results from the First Set of Trans Fat Monitoring Data were posted in December 2007.

Questions and answers on the trans fat monitoring program

Question 1: Why are saturated fats being reported in the data tables?

Scientific evidence has shown that dietary trans and saturated fats can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Thus, it is important from an overall healthy eating perspective, to highlight both the trans and saturated fat levels of foods.

Also, in meeting the recommended trans fat limits, companies and food manufacturers are encouraged to replace trans fats with healthier alternatives such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and to not replace trans fat with saturated fats. By publishing the trans and saturated fat levels, Health Canada is providing Canadian consumers with additional information to help make more informed food choices.

Question 2: Why are the trans fats and saturated fats reported as a percentage of the total fat?

The manner in which the trans and saturated fats are expressed relate directly to the 2% and 5% limits of total fat content that were recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force and are being used as the standards to monitor industry's progress in reducing trans fats from their products. This manner of expression helps cover products that are not subjected to the nutrition labelling regulations, for example non pre-packaged foods such as those that are sold in food service establishments.

Question 3: How does the department gauge success in terms of industry making significant progress?

During the next year, Health Canada would like to see continued progress in each food category and for foods that have been previously identified as being high in trans fats falling below the limits recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force.

Question 4: What will happen if significant progress has not been made to achieve these limits?

In June 2007, the Minister announced that if significant progress has not been made over the next two years to achieve the 2% and 5% limits recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force, the Department will develop regulations to ensure that the levels are met.

Question 5: How can a product be labelled as "trans-fat free"?

As outlined in the Food and Drug Regulations, the amount of trans fats can be labelled as "0 g" in the Nutrition Facts Table and the product may be labelled as "trans-fat free" if the following conditions are met:

The food:

  1. contains less than 0.2 g of trans fat per
    1. reference amount and serving of stated size, or
    2. serving of stated size, if the food is a prepackaged meal; and
  2. meets the conditions set out for "low in saturated fats".

The conditions set out for "low in saturated fats" state that:

  1. The food contains 2 g or less of saturated fat and trans fat combined per
    1. reference amount and serving of stated size; or
    2. 100 g, if the food is a prepackaged meal.
  2. The food provides 15% or less energy from the sum of saturated fat and trans fats.

Nutrition Facts Food Label