The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) has made a draft policy limiting the level of trans fat in foods to 2 per cent in a bid to prevent deaths linked to the intake of excessive trans fatty acid (TFA).
“We’ll send the draft regulations to the law ministry after analysing opinions of stakeholders. A consultation meeting with the stakeholders will be held on May 30 to this end,” Monzur Morshed Ahmed, chief of the Technical Committee on Trans Fats and a member of the BFSA, told the Daily Sun.He said the BFSA opened the draft regulations for public opinions that continued till April 25. “We sent the draft regulations to the food ministry for its opinions in this regard. We also placed it before an inter-ministerial meeting held on May 20 with the food secretary in the chair,” he said.
To safeguard public health, the BFSA drafted the regulations, "Limiting Trans Fatty Acid in Food Products Regulations 2021", and uploaded it on its website on March 22 last for people to give their opinions.
The technical committee chief said, "The World Health Organization has called all member countries to regulate trans fat in foods within 2023. We’ve formulated the regulations keeping that target in mind.”
The draft regulations mentioned that other than ruminant TFA, any fat emulsions, oils and fats that are used individually or intended for processed foods or any food or to be used as raw material for food production for retail business, catering business, restaurants, institutions, bakeries or any food establishment, and processed food, packaged food, ready-to-eat food or any type of foodstuffs cannot be sold, distributed, stored, produced, processed, marketed or imported if those contain more than 2 per cent TFA or 2 gram TFA per 100 gram fat.
In addition, for packaged foods, information regarding trans fatty acid must be declared on food labels.
Earlier, the draft regulations were finalised at a meeting of the Technical Committee on Trans Fats on January 25.Health experts said industrially produced trans fat, known as dalda or bonospoti ghee in local markets, is a silent killer as the high level of trans fat in foods increases bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduces good cholesterol (HDL) in the human body.
In its report titled “WHO Report on Global Trans Fat Elimination 2020” published on September 9, 2020, the WHO said 15 countries, including Bangladesh, account for approximately two-thirds of the worldwide deaths linked to trans fat intake.
A study of the National Heart Foundation Hospital & Research Institute (NHFHRI) has found that about 92 percent of sampled PHO brands in Dhaka city were containing TFA at a much higher level than the 2 per cent one set by WHO. According to WHO report, 5,776 people die from heart diseases each year in Bangladesh due to the consumption of trans fatty acid.
The world body 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 per cent by the stipulated time.
“We hope we’ll be able to put the regulations in place by the deadline set by the WHO,” said Monzur Morshed.
“It’s very important to make regulations to limit trans fat in foods in a bid to save people’s lives from the harmful effect of the trans fatty acid,” said Prof Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Research of NHFHRI.