India introduces new regulations to limit trans fats in food items

INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSI) has introduced new laws limiting trans fats in foods to 3% for the year 2021.

FSSI in a statement said that by 2022, this restriction of trans fat usage will be up to 2 percent.

With the new regulations India joins the club of around 40 countries globally that have already enacted the best practice policies to eliminate trans fats.

“The latest amendments to FSSAI rules signal the completion of the process of regulating trans fats in India,” said Ashim Sanyal, COO of Consumer Voice

Packaged food companies have welcomed the move saying that the decision to reduce trans-fat in food items which use edible oil as an ingredient to 2% is consumer friendly.

According to the food companies, the decision will not put a burden on the industry as most companies are already working on reducing trans-fat in their products.

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“Most food companies are already moving towards zero trans-fat … It is a pro-consumer, pro-industry move,” said Mayank Shah, senior category head, Parle Products said.

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.

Consumption of foods that have excess amount of trans fat has been associated with heart risks, obesity and several other lifestyle diseases.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), trans fat leads to more than 5,00,000 deaths due to cardiovascular disease, every year.

In 2018, the WHO formulated a ‘REPLACE’ action package as an approach to eliminate this unhealthy fat from global food supplies by 2023.

This is the approach that many countries have been following in an effort to curb the continued use of trans fat in meal preparations.

In India, the FSSAI limit on trans-fatty acids in food products comes just weeks after it tightened the norms for oils and fats.

“The two recent regulations limiting trans fats to below 2% make India a global and regional leader on the issue,” said Ms. Vandana Shah, Regional Director, South Asia Programs, Global Health Advocacy Incubator.

“Eliminating this harmful ingredient from India’s food supply is a clear step in the right direction towards creating safer and healthier food systems.”

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