Limiting Trans Fat in Foods

Bangladesh can follow Indian policy: Experts

Staff Correspondent

20 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Experts have said Bangladesh could follow Indian policy to limit the use of trans fat in foods, oils and PHO (Partially Hydrogenated Oils). 

Neighbouring country India has already unveiled regulations on limiting trans fats in food, said a press release from Progga.

“Food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain industrial trans fatty acids more than 2 percent by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product from January 1, 2022,” according to the revised regulation of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The FSSAI on January 1 announced that all edible refined oils, vanaspati, bakery shortening, margarines, vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads may only contain up to 3 percent trans fats until January 2021 and 2 percent or less trans fats until January 2022. Swiftly on the heels of this enforcing a TFA limit in fats and oils, FSSAI released a second notification on capping trans fat limits in foods on February 5, it added.

Vandana Shah, Regional Director, South Asia Programmes, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, in a statement said, “We hope that India’s adoption of global best practice regulations to limit trans fat to below 2 percent in oils, fats and foods will motivate other countries in the region to also adopt similar regulations in the very near future. Eliminating this harmful ingredient from Bangladesh’s food supply will be critical towards creating safer and healthier food systems that will also save money by reducing the incidence of heart attacks.”

Talking to daily sun, former Additional Health Secretary and Bangladesh Country Lead of Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) Muhammad Ruhul Quddus said, “Following the FSSAI, the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) should finalise their draft policy on limiting the trans fat in foods and PHO and to implement it immediately in a bid to save people’s lives.”

“The encouraging news is that our neighbouring country has already made a regulation on limiting trans fat in foods, and PHO. We will be happy if the BFSA takes necessary steps to adopt regulation to this end immediately,” Prof Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Research of National Heart Foundation Hospital & Research Institute (NHFHRI), told the daily sun. 

ABM Zubair, Executive Director of research and advocacy organisation PROGGA, said, “The BFSA should finalise and implement the policy on limiting the trans fat in oil, foods and PHO at the soonest possible time as our very neighbouring country has already finalised a regulations in this regard."

The BFSA  sources said it has decided to make regulations limiting trans fat to 2 percent of the total fat contents of all fats, oils and foods as the Technical Committee on Trans Fats formed by the BFSA in a meeting in November last year decided in principle to formulate the policy.

However, the Bangladesh government has finalised draft of policy to check industrially produced trans fat in all foods and PHO to save the country’s people from the harmful effect of the trans fat.

“Work is going on in full swing to make a policy to regulate use of trans fat (in foods and PHO). We have already finalised a draft of the policy,” Md Abdul Kayowm Sarker, Chairman of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) told the daily sun on Wednesday.

WHO has set a global target of eliminating industrially produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply chain by 2023. Member countries have to lower the limit of trans fat in foods to 2 percent.

Monzur Morshed Ahmed, chief of the Technical Committee on Trans Fats and a member of the BFSA, said, “We hope we can formulate the policy by the WHO deadline.”

Health experts said the industrially-produced trans fat, known as dalda or bonospoti ghee in local markets, is a silent toxic killer while the high level trans fat in food increases bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduces good cholesterol (HDL) in human body.