In response to the growing concern about the health risks associated with trans fatty acids due to the use of hydrogenated vegetable oils (HVOs), Woolworths has announced that they're aiming to be the first South African food retailer to remove HVOs from their entire own-brand product range.
With the removal of HVOs from all their freshly prepared pies, pizzas, soups, sauces, ready-made meals and party snacks, they've now completed phase 1 of the project.
Trans fatty acids, often called "trans fats", are regarded as "bad" fats as they raise levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and lower the levels of "good" HDL cholesterol in our blood. This contributes to an increased risk of heart disease.
While trans fats occur naturally in some foods – particularly animal-based foods such as dairy products and meat – they also result from the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils, including those formerly common in everyday foods such as solid margarines.
"When the trans fat issue emerged in 2003, Woolworths embarked upon a two-pronged approach to address the issue," explains Cecil Mitchell, Head of Food Technology at Woolworths.
"In line with our Good Food Journey, we invested over R1 million in lab equipment to allow us to include the fatty acid profile on our nutritional information labelling so that our customers could make informed choices," Mitchell says. "We also began replacing HVOs with fats and oils that, in addition to containing no artificial colourants, have better fatty acid profiles."
"It's very important for us to ensure that we offer our customers foods that not only taste delicious, but that’s better for their health. For example, we were the first South African food retailer to remove 'added' MSG and tartrazine from our foods. The removal of HVOs represents another milestone on our Good Food Journey," says Woolworths Head of Foods, Julian Novak.
He adds, "We are committed not only to offering our customers a wide range of top-quality, delicious food choices, but to promoting healthy eating as part of a healthy lifestyle."
- (liquidlingo Communications, November 2007)
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