Trans fat levels in foods

#GS2 #GOVERNANCE #GS3 #HEALTH

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has capped the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in oils and fats to 3% for 2021 and 2% by 2022 from the current permissible limit of 5% through an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations.

 

  • The revised regulation applies to edible refined oils, vanaspati (partially hydrogenated oils), margarine, bakery shortenings, and other mediums of cooking such as vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads.
  • Trans fats are associated with increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 5.4 lakh deaths take place each year globally because of intake of industrially produced trans fatty acids. 
  • The WHO has also called for global elimination of trans fats by 2023. Cardiovascular diseases along with diabetes are proving fatal for COVID-19 patients and the regulation must not be restricted to oils and fats, but must apply to all foods
  • While the regulation comes into effect immediately, industry players were made to take a pledge back in 2018 that they would comply with WHO’s call for action to reduce TFA by 3% by 2021 allowing them three years to comply with the latest regulation.
  • It was in 2011 that India first passed a regulation that set a TFA limit of 10% in oils and fats, which was further reduced to 5% in 2015.
  • In 2018 the World Health Organization launched a plan to eliminate trans fat from the global food supply. They estimate that trans fat leads to more than 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease yearly.

 

Trans fat regulation:

  • It aims to limit the amount of "trans fat" - fat containing trans fatty acids - in industrial food products, has been enacted in many countries
  • These regulations were motivated by numerous studies that pointed to significant negative health effects of trans fat.
  • It is generally accepted that trans fat in the diet is a contributing factor in several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Trans fatty acid is an unhealthy substance that is made through the chemical process of hydrogenation of oils
  • Hydrogenation solidifies liquid oils and increases the shelf life and the flavor stability of oils and foods that contain them. 
  • Trans fatty acids are found in vegetable shortening and in some margarine, crackers, cookies, and snack foods. 
  • Trans fatty acids are also found in abundance in many deep-fried foods. Trans fatty acids both raise the 'bad' cholesterol and lower the 'good' cholesterol levels in blood, markedly increasing the risk of heart disease. Also known as trans fat.
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