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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 10 February, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

Cutting trans fat

Cutting trans fat

Introduction

  • Come January 1, 2022, India will join a select group of countries limiting industrial trans fat to 2% by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product.
  • India would thus be achieving the WHO target a year in advance (WHOs target is by 2023).

Trans fat content limit

  • In mid-2016, the trans fat content limit was halved from 10% to 5%, and in December 2020, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) capped it to 3% by 2021. Now India has committed to limit trans fat to 2% by 2022.

Details about trans fat

  • While trans fat is naturally present in red meat and dairy products.
  • The focus is on restricting the industrially produced trans fat used solely to prolong the shelf life of products at less cost.
  • While the government’s notification specifically mentions edible oils and fats and emulsions such as margarines are the major sources of industrial trans fat.
  • Also, even when the fat/oil contains less than 2% trans fat, repeated use at high temperature can increase the trans fat content.

Harmful impacts of transfat

  • Trans fat negatively alter the lipoprotein cholesterol profile by increasing the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) while decreasing the level of HDL or good cholesterol.
  • These changes in the lipoprotein cholesterol profile increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Trans fat limits globally

  • In 2004, when Denmark became the first country to limit industrially produced trans fat content in all foods to 2% of fats and oils, it faced resistance from much of Europe, including the European Commission.
  • However, many countries have since adopted similar restrictions themselves.
  • In fact, in April 2019, the European Union (EU) adopted a new regulation — from April 2021 — to limit the amount of industrially produced trans fat to 2% in all foods sold within the EU.
  • According to a 2020 report of WHO, 32 countries already have some form of mandatory limits on trans fat.

Case study of Denmark

  • The benefits of reducing trans fat can become quickly apparent, as seen in Denmark; three years after the cap came into effect, it saw a reduction of about 14 deaths attributable to cardiovascular diseases per 1,00,000 population.
  • It is now well known that trans fat can be completely eliminated and replaced with healthier substitutes without any change in the food taste or cost.

Way ahead

  • According to WHO, a dozen large multinational food companies have already committed to eliminate industrially produced trans fat from all their products by 2023.
  • With a year’s notice, it should be possible for the multinational food companies to redouble their efforts to meet the FSSAI standard, while Indian companies that have earlier been able to cut the level of trans fat as in the FSSAI limit, should have no excuse not to meet the current capping.

Source: TH


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