Facing the trans fat ban

Facing the trans fat ban

Most fast food players say they are ready

The ban on trans fats is to take effect on Jan 9, but most large food producers have already taken steps to switch.
The ban on trans fats is to take effect on Jan 9, but most large food producers have already taken steps to switch.

Bakery and fast food companies are ready to comply with the Public Health Ministry's new regulation to ban the production, import and distribution of food containing trans fats.

Nadim Xavier Salhani, chief executive at Mudman Plc, the operator of the Dunkin' Donuts chain, said Monday it would abide by the new regime but still has to see how it will impact business.

The Public Health Ministry's notification will become effective 180 days after its publication in the Royal Gazette on July 13.

The ministry cited scientific evidence that trans fatty acids from partially hydrogenated oils will increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Common foods which contain trans fats include cakes, pies and cookies, margarine, crackers, microwave popcorn, cream-filled candies, doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, fried fast foods, frozen pizza.

"We have been tackling this issue for the past four months and we are working with suppliers to review oil ingredients," said Mr Salhani, adding that suppliers have already submitted three new trans fat-free oils and the company is testing them for taste profile.

Some of Dunkin Donut products are over the trans fat limit and the company will change as soon the company replaces its oils.

Mr Salhani said with people being more cautious about their health, the company has put more focus on the coffee business at Dunkin Donut stores.

"All our new store openings feature coffee. We want to be a strong coffee player in the market to go head-to-head with other coffee players," said Mr Salhani.

Hester Chew, the chief executive of McThai Co, the operator of McDonald's, said that the company uses palm oil that is free of trans fats.

"We continue to monitor our oil every day to ensure it is safe and meets standard requirements," said Mr Chew.

He said the company was aware the Public Health Ministry would launch the measure to enforce the trans fats ban. The company is therefore cooperating with suppliers to develop a McDonald's Pie without trans fat, which has been available since February.

"McThai imports premium bakery goods from various countries and we are in the process of inspecting raw materials and ingredients. If the company finds that some menus items have trans fat, it will stop importing them immediately," said Mr Chew.

Ausanee Mahagitsiri Leonio, president of King Food Group, the operator of bakery chains such as Krispy Kreme and Cinnabon, said as both chains are American bakery brands, it has known about trans fats for a long time.

"Krispy Kreme has many oil options to use in our bakery products and the company has chosen trans fat-free ones since setting up shop in Thailand, even though the operating costs are higher than using normal oil," she said.

Mrs Ausanee likewise said the company had felt no effects from the planned move because it had prepared itself in advance.

Prapat Siangjan, general manager of Burger King Thailand, an affiliate of Minor Food Group, said the company is in the process of getting certification from its supplier to guarantee that products sold at Burger King are trans fat-free.

"The trans fat issue is not a new thing at American quick service restaurants. Burger King in the US has already made the shift and we are sure our products will comply with the government's regulation," said Mr Prapat.

Waewkanee Assoratgoon, general manager of KFC, Yum Restaurants International Thailand Company Ltd, said the company stopped selling products with trans fat in Thailand in 2015.

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