In partnership with the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) set 2023 as the target year to eliminate trans fats from the industrially produced food supply.
- Trans fat is the worst form of fat that is known to be a cause for several heart ailments.
- They are directly related to over 500,000 deaths a year across the world.
- WHO has said that eliminating trans fats is the easiest and simplest ways to save lives.
- IFBA members pledged to limit the quantity of trans fats to 2gm per 100gm fat/oil globally by 2023.
- In the meeting held by WHO Director and 12 major food and beverages companies of the world, also discussed the amounts of salt and sugar in foods and saturated fats.
- Also came to the discussion was the value of regulatory action on labeling and marketing.
- WHO urged the members to strictly adhere to regulatory guidelines.
- These are unsaturated fatty acids found marginally in nature by are produced from vegetable oils extensively.
- These fats are formed through the process of hydrogenation where hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid.
- The process is inexpensive, creates a longer shelf-life and thus is an advantage for the food industry.
- Trans fats are also produced when heating oil repeatedly at 180-degree centigrade.
- But, these fats pose a major health risk.
- They are known to cause coronary artery disease.
- Trans fats increase the amount of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) in the body and also significantly decreases High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) that is beneficial to the heart.
- The fats are also known to cause diabetes, cancer, obesity, liver dysfunction, etc.
India and Trans Fats:
- In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has brought out guidelines in 2015 to restrict trans fats to 5% in industrially produced food.
- In November 2018, FSSAI launched a mass media campaign creating awareness on trans fats and eliminating them by 2022 in the country.
- The campaign is titled ‘Heart Attack Rewind’.
- Various states in India have also launched campaigns to rein in trans fats. Kerala is the pioneer state.
- At the world stage, Denmark is the first country to ban trans fats.
- India has a high burden of coronary heart disease which is directly attributed to diet.
- Due to changing lifestyles, people are preferring off the shelf processed food which is rich in trans fats.
- Awareness is now being spread on the adverse effects of trans fats.
- Many food industry majors too pledged to reduce the quantity of trans fats in the food.
- Individual discipline is the need of the hour to lead a healthy life.