‘FSSAI slashes limit for trans fat levels in foods’

Context

In a latest development, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has slashed the amount of trans fatty acids allowed in oils and fats to 3 percent from 5 percent.

About

What are Trans Fatty Acids?

  • According to the World Health Organisation, trans fat, or trans-fatty acids, are unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources.
    • Naturally occurring trans fat comes from cows and sheep
    • Industrially produced trans fat are formed in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, converting the liquid into a solid, resulting in ‘partially hydrogenated oil’.

Major foods containing trans fat

  • Fried and packaged foods along with vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings are some food items that contain trans fats.
  • According to the FSSAI, bakery items such as biscuits, cookies, doughnuts, rusk, cake and packaged foods such as bhujia, namkeen mixtures, chips, corn, tortilla chips and microwave popcorn contains trans fats.
  • All kinds of fried foods and especially those cooked in reused oil contain trans fat.

Why trans fat are harmful?

  • Hard to metabolise: Trans fats have a specific chemical structure, that our body finds hard to metabolize.
  • No role: Also trans fats have no physiological role to play in our body.
  • Inflammation: Those who eat more trans fats have higher levels of C-reactive protein (a biomarker for inflammation in the body).
  • Poor memory: Further, trans fat consumption is linked with poor memory and higher risk for dementia too.
  • Increase bad cholesterol & decrease good cholesterol: Trans fats increase ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and reduce ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, and can trigger diabetes, immune dysfunction and obesity among other things.
    • The WHO estimates that every year, trans fat leads to more than 5,00,000 deaths worldwide, mostly from cardiovascular diseases. Hence, eliminating trans fats is crucial.

India’s commitment to eliminate trans fat (industrial)

  • India is committed to the elimination of industrial trans fats in fats/oils, and in foods containing fats/oils in a phased manner.
  • Now, the trans fat content in fats and oils has been reduced to 3 percent.
  • Further reduction to 2% by 2022 is under process.

“Trans Fat Free” logo

  • In October 2020, Union Health Ministry had launched the “Trans Fat Free” logo during the 8th International Chefs Conference in the national Capital.
  • The logo is meant to be used by restaurants and food manufacturers, on voluntary basis, that use trans-fat free fats or oils, which do not have industrial trans fats more than 0.2g/100g of the food.

© 2020 Basix Education Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved