Trans fat Current Affairs - 2020

FSSAI launches ‘Trans Fat Free’ logo

Union Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan launched the ‘Trans Fat Free’ logo of FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) at 8th International Chefs’ Conference held in New Delhi.

Key Highlights

Food Facilities or Establishments that use trans-fat free fats/oil as well as do not have industrial trans-fat over 0.2g per 100g of food, in compliance with Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018 are eligible to display the logo. However, the use of the logo by restaurants and food manufacturers is voluntary.

Under the slogan ‘Chefs 4 Trans Fat Free’, at the international conference, nearly 1,000 chefs from different parts of country took a pledge to use trans-fat free oils/fats in their recipes and work towards its elimination from diets of Indian populace at large.

Why Trans Fat is a concern?

It is the worst type of fats with known health risks. They are largely present in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats or oils, vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings, and can also be found in baked and fried foods.

Industrial trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils so as to make them more solid, and to increase shelf life of foods.

Every year about 5,40,000 people die globally of cardiovascular diseases, and for this the consumption of food laced with industry trans fats is a contributing factor. In India itself the number of deaths is around 60,000.

Initiative by India: As part of ‘Eat Right India’ led by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), India targets to reduce industrially produced trans fatty acids on food supply to less than 2% by 2022. The country’s objective of trans fat elimination by 2022 in a phased manner is a year ahead of global target set by WHO.

WHO partners with IFBA to eliminate Trans Fat

The World Health Organization (WHO) has partnered with International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) to achieve its target under ‘REPLACE Strategy’ of eliminating Trans-fat from industrially produced global food supply by 2023.

Key Highlights:

  • As per WHO, Trans-fat (worst form of fat in food) is responsible for more than 5,00,000 deaths each year from coronary heart disease globally.
  • Therefore, eliminating Trans Fat from food supply by 2023, is one of the most effective and simplest ways to save lives and simultaneously creating a healthier food supply.
  • IFBA members ensured that they will not exceed trans-fat’s industrial limit of 2 gram per 100 g fat/oil in their products globally by 2023.

About Trans Fat

  • It is also called trans fatty acids or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat.
  • Types: two types of trans-fats found in foods, namely
  1. Naturally-occurring: These are produced in gut of some animals. Animal foods (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats.
  2. Artificial: These are created in industrial process by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Food containing Trans-fat include margarine and ghee, snack, baked, fried foods etc.
  • It is widely used in Food Industry as they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time.
  • Impact on health: They not only raises bad cholesterol (LDL) levels but also lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Thus increases risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke. It also make prone to higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Recent Developments

  • In 2003 Denmark became first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans-fats in food products. It resulted in decline in deaths due to cardiovascular disease more quickly than in comparison to OECD countries. The move was then followed by some high-income countries.
  • In May 2018, WHO released ‘REPLACE’ strategy which provides six strategic actions to ensure the quick and complete elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply by 2023.
  • To ensure that benefits are felt equally around the world, action is needed in low and middle-income countries, where controls of use of industrially produced trans-fats are often weaker.

About REPLACE

  • It seeks to encourage complete and sustained elimination of industrially produced trans-fats from food supply by 2023.
  • REPLACE is an abbreviation for WHO’s six strategic actions as:
    • Review (dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats),
    • Promote (replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats,
    • Legislate (enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats),
    • Assess (trans fats content in the food supply),
    • Create awareness (about negative health impact of trans fats) and
    • Enforce (compliance of policies and regulations).

Way Forward for India

On a global scale India has high number of coronary heart disease cases therefore it must try to beat this 2023 deadline and must try to achieve goal earlier.