On 7th March 2019, the Ministry of Health in Singapore announced that packaged foods such as noodles and biscuits with partially hydrogenated oils (PHO) will be banned.
What are partially hydrogenated oils?
Partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats are vegetable oils which have been treated with chemicals (hydrogen) to create a solid kind of fat. Examples of trans fats are vegetable shortening, margarine and certain bread spreads. Often, trans fats are added to cookies, pies and cakes because they prolong the shelf life of these commercially produced snacks. Indeed, it is shortening that keeps packaged cookies crispy for long periods of time. Restaurants and fast food outlets also use trans fats to deep fry foods. Such fats are cost effective because they can be reused over and over again.
Why are PHOs banned?
A diet rich in partially hydrogenated fats has been shown to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. In a nut shell, they are bad for our health.
How will this affect children?
This ban is good for our children as many commercially made cookies are laden with harmful trans fats. Home made cookies would be a healthier alternative if children crave for cookies. Homemade treats do not keep fresh for as long as the ones made trans fat ones but they are generally better for health.