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WHO releases Replace for elimination of industrially-produced trans-fats
Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Geneva
The World Health Organization (WHO) released Replace, a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply.

Eliminating trans-fats is the key to protecting health and saving lives. WHO estimates that every year, trans-fat intake leads to over 5,00,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease.

Industrially-produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack foods, baked foods and fried foods.

Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect the taste or cost of the food.

“WHO calls on governments to use the Replace action package to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general, WHO.

“Implementing the six strategic actions in the Replace package will help achieve the elimination of trans-fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease,” he added.

Replace provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans-fats from the food supply. These are as follows:

REview dietary sources of industrially-produced trans-fats and the landscape for required policy change.

Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans-fats with healthier fats and oils.

Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fats.

Assess and monitor trans-fat content in the food supply and changes in trans-fat consumption in the population.

Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans-fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers and the public.

Enforce compliance with policies and regulations.

Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans-fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food. Some governments have implemented nationwide bans on partially-hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of industrially-produced trans-fats.

In Denmark, the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans-fats, the trans-fat content of food products declined dramatically and cardiovascular disease deaths declined more quickly than in comparable Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.

“New York City eliminated industrially-produced trans-fat a decade ago, following Denmark’s lead,” said Tom Frieden, president and chief executive officer, Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies.

“Trans-fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there’s no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed,” he added.

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 world. 

Michael R Bloomberg, founder, Bloomberg Philanthropies, three-time mayor, New York City, and global ambassador for non-communicable diseases, WHO, said, “Banning trans-fats in New York City helped reduce the number of heart attacks without changing the taste or cost of food, and eliminating their use around the world can save millions of lives.”

“A comprehensive approach to tobacco control allowed us to make more progress globally over the last decade than almost anyone thought possible – now, a similar approach to trans-fat can help us make that kind of progress against cardiovascular disease, another of the world’s leading causes of preventable death,” he added.

Elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the global food supply has been identified as one of the priority targets of WHO’s strategic plan, the draft 13th General Programme of Work (GPW13) which will guide the work of WHO between 2019 and 2023.

GPW13 is on the agenda of  the 71st World Health Assembly, which will be held in Geneva between May 21 and 26, 2018. As part of the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has committed to reducing premature death from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030. The global elimination of industrially-produced trans-fats can help achieve this goal.

“Why should our children have such an unsafe ingredient in their foods?” asked Ghebreyesus.

“The world is now embarking on the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, using it as a driver for improved access to healthy food and nutrition. WHO is also using this milestone to work with governments, the food industry, academia and civil society to make food systems healthier for future generations, including by eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats,” he added.

IFBA’s backing
Meanwhile, the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) announced its support for the call by WHO and non-governmental organisation (NGO), Resolve to Save Lives, for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fat from the global food supply by 2023.

“We welcome this action by WHO and Resolve,” said Rocco Renaldi, secretary general, IFBA.

“Two years ago, IFBA member companies committed to reduce industrially produced trans-fat in their products worldwide to nutritionally insignificant levels by the end of 2018,” he added.

“Our progress has been significant – at the end of 2017, on an aggregated basis, we estimate that industrially produced trans-fat had been removed from 98.8 per cent of IFBA companies’ global product portfolios,” Renaldi said.

The success of IFBA members’ efforts are the result of replacing PHOs with non-PHO solutions, wherever possible with unsaturated fats, such as high-oleic oils, without sacrificing quality and taste.

“We are committed to working in collaboration with governments, civil society and the food and beverage industry to share best practices and call on all food producers in all sectors to join the effort to achieve this public health priority,” continued Renaldi.
 
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