Fresh push to ban artificial fats in foods by 2023

Tuesday May 22 2018

Trans-fats cause the deaths of over 500,000 people each year from heart disease. FILE PHOTO | NATION


The World Health Organisation has released guidelines to help eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from food supply by 2023.

While such fats prolong the shelf life of foods including margarine, snacks and packaged baked items such as cakes and cookies, they also increase the risk of heart disease, which causes the deaths of 500,000 people each year.

The WHO now wants countries to follow a six-step guide dubbed “Replace,” to do away with these fats.

It entails: Reviewing dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the environment for a policy change; promoting the replacement of these trans fats with healthier fats and oils; enacting laws to eliminate trans fats; assessing their content in the food supply and changing their consumption; creating awareness on the negative health impact of such fats and boosting compliance to policies and regulations.

“These actions will help eliminate trans-fats and mark a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease,” said WHO director general, Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Health goal


As part of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has committed to reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030. Eliminating industrially-produced trans fats can help achieve this goal.

Some high-income countries have legally imposed limits on trans fats that can be contained in packaged food. Some governments have imposed bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans fats.

In Denmark — the first country to introduce restrictions — the trans-fat content of food products declined dramatically and deaths resulting from cardiovascular disease declined faster than in other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Action is needed in low-and middle-income countries, where controls on the use of industrially-produced trans fats are often weaker, to ensure that the benefits are felt equally around the globe, the WHO notes.