To examine the effect of the new Canadian labelling regulations on the fat composition and prices of margarines.
A survey of all margarines sold in major supermarkets in the Greater Toronto area was conducted in 2006, and results were compared with those of a similar survey conducted in 2002. Average fat composition, proportion of ‘trans fat-free’ margarines and average prices of margarines were compared. A general linear model procedure was used to compare the relationship between price and fat composition in 2002 and 2006.
Average amounts of trans fatty acids (TFA) and MUFA decreased, while average amounts of PUFA increased significantly from 2002 to 2006. The proportion of margarines with less than 0·2 g TFA/10 g serving rose significantly from 31 % in 2002 to 69 % in 2006. Margarines lower in TFA on average cost significantly more than margarines with greater amounts of these fats, and this relationship appeared stronger in 2006 relative to 2002.
There is evidence of reductions in TFA in margarines since new labelling regulations came into effect in Canada; however, TFA reductions appeared to be restricted to higher-priced margarines. Results suggest that voluntary approaches (i.e. manufacturer incentives via labelling) to reduce population intakes of TFA will yield little changes in TFA content of low-cost products and thus may have limited benefit for lower-income groups, who are at higher risk of heart disease.
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