Monday, June 25, 2007

Heart and Stroke Foundation's Fatal Trans Fat Flip Flop

In June 2006, the trans-fat task force, a joint undertaking between the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Health Canada, came out with their unanimous recommendations. They recommended that trans-fats be removed from Canada's food supply using a regulatory approach.

Not surprisingly given their lead role in the task force the Heart and Stroke Foundation (CEO Sally Brown was the task force's chair) has a position paper on their website dated November 2006 that states unequivocally,

"The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends that the Federal government implement the recommendations in the Final Report of the Trans Fat Task Force (2006)†, which was co-Chaired by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and Health Canada."
In fact, over the course of the past year, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and CEO Sally Brown have made a very strong case for the implementation of a regulated approach to trans-fat elimination from the Canadian food supply. Here are a smattering of quotes and sources:
"Taking all the evidence into consideration, the task force agreed to a regulatory approach to effectively eliminate transfer in all processed foods"

Sally Brown, CBC News Jun. 28, 2006

The task force took many factors into consideration and was careful in choosing the limits and timeline that it did"

"When you're changing public policy, you have to come up with a solution that is doable, practical but meets your outcomes and that's what we very much tried to do"

"We believe if these regulations were promulgated, Canada would become a world leader in this area"

Sally Brown, Vancouver Sun Jun. 28th, 2006

"The problem is, without regulations, we won't get everyone on board and it's harder to get product changes. Unlike french fries, with something like doughnuts and chocolate bars, you have to take it out of the formulation which is more difficult. We needed regulations uniform across both sectors"

Sally Brown, Vancouver Sun Nov. 1st, 2006

"Trans fats are a "toxic" killer that need to be removed from the food chain as soon as possible"

"We know that the government is taking our recommendations very seriously, but we also know that they're getting some push back from industry who traditionally don't like regulatory approaches"

"Our argument is, if you don't regulate it, it'll be piecemeal"

"We also say that by regulating it, you're sending a signal to the marketplace to ... create healthier oils."

"We think we've given the government a great opportunity to implement what was a consensus report," she said. "[The food industry] supported all the recommendations, they're ready to act. Now we need the government to act."

Sally Brown, National Post Jan. 11th, 2007

"We don't understand why the federal government has not moved on this important health issue,"

"We want this toxin - which is what it is - removed from our food supply"

"Canadians are consuming on average 2.5 times the daily limit, and in some age groups, much higher than that"

Sally Brown, CNews, Apr. 5th, 2007

"could account for between 3,000 and 5,000 Canadian deaths annually from heart disease"

"The longer we wait, the more illness and in fact death will happen, so we know we have to get it out of our food supply"

"There is no safe amount of trans consumption, but many of these foods are well past recommended limits."

Sally Brown, The Windsor Star, Jun. 5, 2007
So to summarize Sally Brown and the Heart and Stroke Foundation's very clear position on trans-fat and Canada, they wants trans-fat, a toxin with no safe consumption level, responsible for thousands of deaths annually, removed from the food supply via regulatory means because if its removal is not regulated not everyone will be on board, removal will be piecemeal and the longer we wait, the more illness and death will happen.

So then please can someone explain to me why when on June 19th, Tony Clement reported that the government will be ignoring the clear cut recommendations of Sally Brown's trans fat task force, trading a regulatory approach to trans-fat removal for a two year, please, pretty please, request to the food industry to remove trans fat that Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation came out with this press release,
"The acceptance of these expert, consensus recommendations moves us one big step closer to the elimination of processed trans fats from our food"

Sally Brown, Toronto Star, Jun. 21, 2007
Umm, Ms. Brown, didn't you say just two short weeks ago that the longer we wait the more illness and death will happen? Didn't you also express your genuine and valid concern that without regulation not everyone will be on board and that removal will be piecemeal and that there's no safe level for consumption?

Ms. Brown, why have you replaced what should have been indignation with accolades?

Contrast Ms. Brown's roll over and play dead response to Tony Clement's inaction press release with that of Mr. Bill Jeffery from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He was also a member of the task force and felt just as strongly as Ms. Brown once purported to about the need for a regulatory removal of trans-fat from our food supply,
"Since the Trans Fat Task Force called for regulatory limits on industrial trans fat in foods in June 2006, at least 2,000 Canadians have died from trans-fat induced heart attacks. Yet, Minister Clement gave the entire food industry a two-year free-pass for voluntary action and says he will let all companies off the hook completely if, by June 2009, only 75% of certain products comply with the limits proposed by the Task Force. Minister Clement’s long inaction and flimsy standards for corporate responsibility pay a king’s ransom for the government’s relations with food companies."

Bill Jeffery, CSPI Jun. 20th, 2007
Shame he's not the CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.