Objective: To examine the effect of the new Canadian labelling regulations on the fat composition and prices of margarines.
Study design: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: 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.