Why countries must eliminate trans-fatty acid from food

Milky Way candy bar is deep-fried in oil free of trans fats at a food booth at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Indiana was the first state to require the switch at its state fair. (AP

WHO unveils new strategies to fight trans-fat in foods

WHO said eliminating the fat is key to protecting health and saving lives.

Artificial trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. After some deliberation, the FDA determined that food manufacturers in the US should find alternatives to trans fats in their products.

Trans-fats increase levels of LDL-cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk, and decreases levels of HDL-cholesterol, which carry away cholesterol from arteries and transport it to the liver, that secretes it into the bile.

Trans fats can be eliminated from the global food supply in five years, the World Health Organization announced Friday, unveiling guidelines modeled after campaigns in Denmark and New York City.

The initiative, called REPLACE, offers a "step-by-step" guide for nations to follow to remove trans fat from their diets.

The plan largely targets South Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African countries, where use of trans fats is still pretty high.

It's estimated that eliminating trans fats from cakes, pastries and other foods may prevent 12,000 heart attacks in Canada over 20 years. In fact, nutritionists recommend that trans fat should make up just 1 percent of your overall diet, while others say that it shouldn't be present in your diet at all.

Switzerland, Britain, Canada, and the United States have all already moved to ban trans fats, and Thailand is expected to make a similar decree in the next month, according to the New York Times.

The use of trans fats leads to about 500,000 cardiovascular disease deaths each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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But replacing saturated fats with partially hydrogenated oils was a bad idea.

The International Food and Beverage Alliance - a Geneva group representing food companies including Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc., McDonald's Corp. and Unilever NV - said its members have removed industrially produced trans fat from 98.8% of their global product portfolios.

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

E nforce compliance of new and existing policies and regulations. A misconception that the products were healthier than butter or lard led to surge in popularity that peaked in 1950s, but studies gradually revealed a link between trans fats and unsafe cholesterol levels in the blood. Trans fats still hide in some foods that millions of people eat every day, like coffee creamer, baking products like margarine and shortening, pre-made frosting, some potato chips, pre-made dough and fried food.

Denmark banned trans fats in their food 15 years ago.

A number high-income countries have already placed strict limits on trans fats, virtually eliminating them.

This article has been republished from materials provided by the World Health Organization.

It's also important to note here that Australian manufacturers are not required to declare TFAs on food labels, however, it is compulsory if the manufacturer makes a nutrition content claim about cholesterol or saturated, trans, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, omega-3, omega-6 or omega-9 fatty acids.

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