The World Health Organisation has urged governments across the world to eliminate the use of trans fats from global food supplies by 2023.
The country’s food regulator has proposed cut down maximum amount of trans fat content in vegetable oils, vegetable fat and hydrogenated vegetable oil to 2 per cent by weight as part of its objective to make India trans fat-free by 2022.
Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India said, “We are in discussions with the industry to persuade them to reduce the amount of trans fatty acids in edible oil. We are conducting various studies and getting opinions of medical experts on whether this needs to be further reduced.”
The current permitted level of trans fat is 5 per cent in India. The World Health Organisation has urged governments across the world to eliminate the use of trans fats from global food supplies by 2023. “We have taken steps towards this even before WHO’s announcement,” Agarwal added. However, this may take some time, he added.
Trans fatty acids are made through hydrogenation of oils, which solidifies them. They help to increase the shelf life of oils and foods and stabilise their flavours. Trans fats can be found in food and food products such as some margarines, crackers, biscuits, snack foods and french fries.
In 2015, the food regulator set the maximum level of trans fatty acids at 5 per cent in food products from 10 per cent earlier. It directed that the level of trans fats in food products must be disclosed on the label.
Trans fats are known to raise the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or the ‘bad’ cholesterol, in the blood and increase the risk of coronary artery heart disease and stroke.