By Opija Raduk

World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed the commitment by the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) to align with the WHO target to eliminate industrially produced trans fat from the global food supply by 2023.

Trans fat intake is responsible for over 500,000 deaths from coronary heart disease each year globally. It is a substance that is made through the industrial conversion of oil to fats.

“The commitment made by IFBA is in line with WHO’s target to eliminate industrial trans-fat from the global food supply by 2023,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a meeting with IFBA representatives. “WHO will be monitoring the next steps to be taken by companies to help ensure the commitment is realized.”

According to Harvad Medical School, eating foods rich in trans fat increases the amount of harmful cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduces the amount of beneficial cholesterol. It creates inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions as well as contributing to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Trans fats can be found in many foods – including fried foods like doughnuts, and baked goods, and stick margarines and other spreads. The Nutrition Facts Panel on a packaged food can determine the amount of trans fats in that particular food. Other sources include reading ingredient list and looking for the ingredients referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils.”

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in human food.

Of particular note was the decision by IFBA members to ensure that the amount of industrial trans-fat in their products does not exceed 2 g of industrial trans-fat per 100 g fat/oil globally by 2023. This is in line with the WHO’s objective and recommendations of its REPLACE action package, which was developed and launched in 2018.

The REPLACE action package provides a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fat from the global food supply.

“Eliminating industrially-produced trans-fat is one of the simplest and most effective ways to save lives and create a healthier food supply,” says Dr Tedros.

In line with the REPLACE initiative, WHO has called on all food producers and oil and fat manufacturers, not only IFBA members, to commit to elimination of industrial trans-fat from the global food supply.

According to American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle recommendations there are several ways to regulate your intake of trans fat. Eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts.

Also limit red meat and sugary foods and beverages and use naturally occurring, unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil most often. Contact: garwoodp@who.int

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