Popular Hong Kong baked products such as puff pastry are loaded with trans fats which could cause coronary heart disease when consumed in excessive amounts, the city's consumer watchdog has warned. One-quarter of the total baked cakes and puff pastries - or 19 out of 75 products - in the Consumer Council's study were found to have exceeded the suggested daily consumption of trans fats by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agricultural Organisation. Adults are advised not to consume more than 2.2g of trans fat per day in a 2,000 kcal diet, according to the recommendations of the two international bodies.
"Excessive trans fat consumption will not only increase 'bad cholesterol' in the blood, posing risks to develop coronary heat disease in the long run," Dr Henry Ng, principal medical officer at the Centre for Food Safety, said, "it will also destroy the 'good cholesterol'."
The test included 75 local food samples such as puff pastry cream soup, tarts, pies, biscuits, and Chinese pastry. Among them, puff pastry cream soup had the highest level of trans fats, which was mainly contained in the pastry. The eight tested samples were found to have trans fat levels ranging from 0.75g to 3.4g per 100g.
Cookies and chicken pies were also found to contain high levels of trans fat. Ng cited an example of a breakfast with a chicken pie and a cup of Hong Kong-style milk tea without sugar, which would constitute an intake of 37 per cent of the daily upper limit.
Although Hong Kong has no legislation on trans fats, Ng noted that the government is actively studying legislation governing them in other countries.
Apart from the natural trans fat content in baked food and pastries, ingredients with partially hydrogenated oil contain industrially produced fat.
Nora Tam Fung-yee, the council's research and testing committee chairwoman, noted that the fact some samples were found to be free of industrially produced trans fat indicated there was room to modify recipes, such as choosing edible oil free of industrially produced trans fat.
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