The FSSAI has amended its rules to put a cap on trans fatty acids (TFAs) in food products just weeks after it tightened the norms for oils and fats.
“Food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain industrial trans fatty acids more than 2% by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product, on and from 1st January, 2022,” said the revised regulations notified recently and made public on February 5.
The Hindu Explains | What are trans fats, and why are they harmful?
In December, the FSSAI had capped TFAs in oils and fats to 3% by 2021, and 2% by 2022 from the current levels of 5%.
“The 2% cap is considered to be elimination of trans fatty acids, which we will achieve by 2022. We are happy to say that we will be reaching this goal a year sooner than the WHO deadline. We have held eight meetings with industry stakeholders and they are onboard to implement the rules,” FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal told The Hindu.
Trans fatty acids are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, increase shelf life of food items and for use as an adulterant as they are cheap. They are present in baked, fried and processed foods as well as adulterated ghee which becomes solid at room temperature. They are the most harmful form of fats as they clog arteries and cause hypertension, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 5.4 lakh deaths take place each year globally because of intake of industrially produced trans fatty acids. The WHO has called for the elimination of industrially-produced trans fatty acids from the global food supply by 2023.
“The latest amendments to FSSAI rules signal the completion of the process of regulating trans fats in India. The move will make a big difference to the health harm caused by this unwanted ingredient. This allows FSSAI and the State-level food safety machineries to focus on implementation and enforcement of the regulations,” said Ashim Sanyal, COO of Consumer Voice.
“The two recent regulations limiting trans fats to below 2% make India a global and regional leader on the issue. Eliminating this harmful ingredient from India’s food supply is a clear step in the right direction towards creating safer and healthier food systems,” said Ms. Vandana Shah, Regional Director, South Asia Programs, Global Health Advocacy Incubator.