Key source of artificial trans fats officially banned in S'pore

First announced in 2019.

Syahindah Ishak | Lean Jinghui | June 01, 2021, 07:22 PM

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Two years ago, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that Singapore will be banning the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in all foods sold in Singapore from June 2021.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, June 1, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary announced that the ban has officially kicked in, which means that PHOs should no longer be included as an ingredient in food products in supermarkets.

In his post, Janil says the PHO ban is a "significant step" towards creating a healthier environment for Singaporeans.

This measure is in addition to the two per cent limit on trans fat content in fats and oils sold in Singapore, introduced in 2013, to help reduce the average daily trans fat intake among Singaporeans.

Wait, what are PHOs?

PHOs are a key source of artificial trans fat, commonly found in pre-packaged foods such as oils, frozen baked goods, and snacks such as potato chips.

They can lead to an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol.

An increase in bad cholesterol has in turn been associated with an increased risk for heart disease, which remains a leading cause of death in Singapore.

No sign of PHOs in supermarkets

When Mothership visited some supermarkets on June 1, we found that the oil section remained well-stocked, and indeed PHO-free.

Cold Storage. Image via Jinghui Lean

NTUC Fairprice. Image via Syahindah Ishak

Staff employees told Mothership that they were not aware of the PHO-ban though, which suggests the changes to products might have been implemented a while before the official ban.

Image via Jinghui Lean

When the announcement first came out, six companies pledged to comply with the ban by June 2020.

They are Gardenia Foods, Nestle Singapore, NTUC FairPrice, Prime Supermarket, Sheng Siong Group and Sunshine Bakeries.

Images via Syahindah Ishak and Jinghui Lean