FSSAI plans to reduce trans-fatty acids (TFA) in Vanaspati /bakery shortenings/margarine to less than 2% by 2022
In a recent press release dated 1st June, 2018, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (“FSSAI”) has stated that it plans to bring down the trans-fatty acids (“TFA”) in Vanaspati /bakery shortenings/margarine to less than 2% in a phased manner. This would effectively bring the level of trans fats to zero level in food in India by 2022. The plan has been released post a meeting held with Vanaspati and edible oil manufacturers, public health experts and consumer organizations.
Sources of TFA:
The World Health Organization has given a call to eliminate industrially produced trans-fat from the food supply by 2023 and has released an action package ‘REPLACE’ for the same. Industrially produced TFAs are categorized as bad fats that are created artificially during hydrogenation process while making partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs). PHVOs are the major source of TFAs in India and are used in Vanaspati /bakery shortenings/margarine. TFAs are also formed during repeated heating of fats/oils while deep frying at home and restaurants but these are not known to have adverse health effects.
Consequences of TFA:
Globally, more than 500,000 deaths in 2010 were attributed to increased intake of TFAs. Industrially produced TFAs can be easily eliminated by adopting newer technologies which allow use of healthier oils in place of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils at negligible costs.
Statement by FSSAI CEO:
The FSSAI CEO stated that they plan to bring down the TFA content to less than 2% by 2022, a year ahead of the global target to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat from the food supply by the year 2023. Hopefully, this initiative will drive the market for TFA products in the future. The TFA reduction in PHVOs from 5% to 2% will be carried out in a phased manner by the industry.
The Road ahead:
The consensus that has been reached will now be taken up with FSSAI to draft a Regulation around this. The Draft Regulations will be notified soon and final regulation will take around 3-4 months.