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Govt adopts regulation on limiting trans-fat in foods

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 1st December, 2021 07:27:24 PM
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Govt adopts regulation on limiting trans-fat in foods

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The government has adopted a policy in regulating harmful trans fatty acids in food products in a bid to save people from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including the heart disease. 

Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) has adopted the policy declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) in regulating toxic trans fatty acids in foodstuffs. 

The regulation titled “Limiting Trans Fatty Acids in Foodstuffs Regulations, 2021” has been notified in the government gazette on November 29.

The experts said it will ensure safe food and at the same time play a role in preventing NCDs as around half a million people die of trans fat-induced heart diseases globally each year. 

PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh (NHFB), and Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) hail this effort of the government. 

President of the NHFB Brigadier (Retd.) Abdul Malik said, implementation of the new regulation will drastically reduce the prevalence of heart diseases in the country.

Vandana Shah, Regional Director of South Asia Programs at Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), said, “Bangladesh joins a number of countries, including India, Brazil and Turkey, that are taking steps to follow the WHO’s call to eliminate industrially produced trans fat from their food supply by 2023.”

The health experts said industrially produced Trans Fatty Acid (TFA) or trans-fat is a toxic food element. Excessive intake of trans fat causes increased risks of heart diseases, deaths owing to heart diseases, dementia, and cognitive impairment.

The prime source of trans fat in food is partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), popularly known in the country as dalda or bonospoti-ghee. PHO or dalda is generally used in bakery items, processed and deep-fried snacks, as well as in the preparation of foods by hotels, restaurants and street food vendors. 

The WHO has set the target of eliminating industrially produced trans-fat from the global food supply chain by 2023. 

The BFSA has made the regulation on limiting trans fat aiming to meet the target of fixing the maximum level of trans fat to 2% of the total fat in all oils, fats and foodstuffs by December 31, 2022. 

A 2019 study revealed that the level of trans fat (trans fatty acid) in 92% of samples of leading PHO brands of Dhaka city surpasses the WHO threshold of 2%. According to the WHO, Bangladesh ranks among the 15 countries with the highest burden of death owing to trans fat-induced heart diseases. 

Executive Director of PROGGA, ABM Zubair said, “4.41% of deaths from heart diseases in Bangladesh are attributable to trans-fat intake. This regulation will surely contribute to achieving SDG goal 3.4 of reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by one- third within 2030.”