Staff Correspondent: On the occasion of the World Food Day, advocacy group PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) yesterday said policies must be formed fixing the maximum limit of trans fat to 2 percent of total fat in all oils, fats, and foods as trans fat in food increases risk of heart disease.
Executive Director of the organisation ABM Zubair said tans fat causes 4.41 percent of all the deaths from cardiovascular diseases in Bangladesh, according to WHO. Hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved through mandatory trans fat restrictions.
“So, we must enact necessary policies without further delay. In order to ensure safe and trans fat free food, PROGGA urges to speedily enact and implement policies following WHO guidelines of limiting trans fat to 2 percent of total fat in all fats, oils, and foods,” he said in a statement.
PROGGA said that restrictions must be placed for complementary measures such as mandating TFA levels to be listed on prepackaged items’ nutrition facts panels, requiring partially-hydrogenated oils to be included on ingredients lists, requiring front-of-package labels that note when products contain TFA, and restricting the use of health claims related to TFA – such as “TFA-free” or “low in TFA”.
Oct 16 is the World Food Day and its theme for the year is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions are our future”.
Industrially-produced trans fat in food is one of the major causes for increased risks of heart diseases. Globally, 250,000 people die of heart diseases due to consumption of trans fat-laden food. The fact of much greater concern is that Bangladesh ranks among the 15 countries with the highest burden of deaths from trans fat induced heart diseases, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
Industrially produced trans fat in food primarily comes from Partially Hydrogenated Oil or PHO, which is familiar as dalda or bonospoti in Bangladesh. PHO or dalda is commonly used in preparing fried snacks, baked goods, as well as food preparation by restaurants and street food vendors.
In a recent study, the National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute has found 92 percent of sampled PHOs from Dhaka city to contain trans fat levels above the 2 percent limit set by the WHO.
The sampled PHOs even showed a staggering high concentration of TFA, 20.9g per 100 grams, which is more than 10 times the WHO-set threshold. Bangladesh is yet to introduce any law or regulation to protect the public health from the harms of TFA.
However, very recently the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) has decided to promulgate regulations limiting TFA to 2 percent of the total fat contents of all fats, oils, and foods. The committee has already prepared a position paper to regulate TFA.
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