Margarine makers face difficult requests

Canadian rules require that magarine, an emulsion of fat or oil not derived from milk:

Canadian standards require margarine to contain vitamins A and D, but a manufacturer has been asked to add 10 times the normal amount of vitamin D to the product for an international market.

Anthony Robert, manager of quality assurance for Richardson Oilseed Ltd., said company officials are still investigating the request, which came from a buyer in the Middle East.

Robert said vitamin D deficiency had been identified as a problem among the female population in some Middle Eastern countries. Conservative dress among women limits exposure to sunlight, the main source of Vitamin D.

Because vegetable oil and margarine are widely used, products enriched with additional vitamin D would be one way to address the problem, Robert said.

“We’re a little bit leery at the moment to make sure that that is something that we are even allowed to do because that would be something of course we could not sell in Canada and the United States,” said Robert.

He cited the request as an example of increased traceability and logistics requirements that manufacturers face when providing product internationally.


“We haven’t actually said yes or no yet. We’re just trying to discuss the legalities of it because, once again, this is a product that would be illegal to sell in Canada.”

The Canadian standard for margarine requires that it contain no less than 3,300 international units of vitamin A and 530 IU of vitamin D.

Robert said Richardson was also presented recently with a list of 28 tests that China wanted it to administer to products. It included tests for licorice root antioxidant, rosemary extract and tea polyphenol, none of which would be found in Canadian product.

Robert said Richardson successfully negotiated the list down to 15 tests in addition to the usual eight to 12 it regularly runs on products to ensure quality and safety.

“Everybody’s game is ratcheting up,” said Robert.

  • Contains no less than 80 percent fat.

  • Contains no less than 3,300 IU of vitamin A and no less than 530 IU of vitamin D.

  • Calorie reduced margarines must contain no less than 40 percent fat, with no less than half of the calories normally present.

  • Margarine has been banned several times in Canadian history.

  • Battles regarding margarine’s colour have also been fought in several provinces.