FSSAI working to reduce industrially produced trans fat
Trans fat kills! Globally, trans fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular diseases every year. India too accounts for a large number of deaths due to trans fats. Keeping this in mind, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has taken up an initiative to reduce or eliminate industrially produced trans fat in the food supply.
In this regard, FSSAI is launching the first mass media campaign of its kind – Heart Attach Rewind – which will be targeted at eliminating trans fat in India by the year 2022.
Tells Pawan Agarwal, CEO FSSAI: “FSSAI is committed to reducing the industrially produced trans fatty acids to less than 2% by the year 2022 in a phased manner. This is in line with our objective to get Freedom from ‘Trans Fat: India@75’. I am hopeful that this media campaign will educate consumers about the harmful effects and its link to cardiovascular diseases.”
The campaign that will be broadcast in 17 languages for a period of four weeks on major digital platforms such as YouTube, FaceBook, Hotstar, and Voot, warns citizens about the health hazards of consuming trans fat and offers FSSAI’s plan to lower the level of trans fat in India’s food supply from the present <5 per cent to <2 per cent. Additionally, the campaign will also be placed on radio channels and outdoor hoardings in Delhi/NCR. A corresponding social media campaign will also highlight the harmful effects of trans fat on people’s health.
This is to be recalled that in May 2018, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had released REPLACE, a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply. WHO had suggested six strategic actions in the REPLACE package to help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and thus, gain a victory in the global fight against cardiovascular diseases.
The six strategic actions under REPLACE to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply were as follows:
REview dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change.
Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils.
Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.
Assess and monitor trans fats content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population.
Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers, and the public.
Enforce compliance of policies and regulations.
Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food. Some governments have implemented nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans fats. The FSSAI campaign is a step in the same direction!
Industrially-produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food.