Philippines bans use of trans fat to control spread of non-communicable diseases

PHILIPPINES – The Philippines government is stepping up efforts to protect its people from non-communicable diseases with a new order against the production of industrial trans fats. 

Titled the “National Policy on the Elimination of Industrially Produced Trans-Fatty Acids for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases,” the new administrative order (AO) aims to remove trans fats from the Fili by 2023. 

Under the AO, industrially produced TFA and processed food products containing TFAs shall be prohibited from being produced, imported, and distributed for commercial sale. 

Once it becomes effective, it will be illegal to sell Partially-Hydrogenated Oils (PHO) to be consumed alone or used in preparation of processed food products 

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Oils and fats made blended with PHO; Oils and fats with TFA content more than 2g per 100g; and Processed and prepackaged food with PHOs and high TFA content will also not be allowed in the Philippines. 

Trans fat consumption does not have beneficial effects on the body and is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Consequently, the deleterious effects of TFA accompanied by a lack of awareness of food products containing TFA increases consumer exposure to these harmful compounds.  

According to the Philipines Department of Health, industrially produced TFAs are common in prepackaged goods such as chips, cookies, biscuits, and spreads. 

It may not be stated quantitatively in the nutrition labels, but it can be found qualitatively in the packet ingredient list as Partially-Hydrogenated Oils which consumers rarely notice.

The result is an ignorant consumer enjoying food without knowledge of the health risks that he is exposing himself to.

Recent research by the Lancet Regional Health notes that with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, patients with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have exacerbated unfavorable outcomes. 

This may have triggered renewed focus on trans fats by the Philippines which like many other nations has been adversely affected by the covid-19 pandemic. 

Meanwhile, there are about seven (7) bills pending in Congress to regulate the use of trans-fatty acids (TFA). 

This will provide legal backing for the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which will be in charge of issuing the appropriate regulatory procedures to ensure compliance. 

The Department of Health Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) said that the Philippines is vulnerable to the dumping of TFA-rich products in the absence of sufficient regulations. 

This risk becomes even greater now when its neighboring countries are implementing bans on PHOs and setting mandatory limits on TFA content in food.  

The new administrative order will thus act as a deterrent to the unfettered proliferation of products rich in TFA in the Philippines and by doing so, help reduce the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the country.

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