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FSSAI Regulations: FSSAI reduces levels of Trans Fat in Food

Ashish M. Shaji

| Updated: Feb 27, 2021 | Category: FSSAI Food License

FSSAI Regulations: FSSAI reduces levels of Trans Fat in Food

With gazette of recent regulation seeking to limit the content of trans fat in food items, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India joins the league of many other nations globally that have best practice policies for the elimination of trans-fat. With the enactment of FSSAI regulations of trans-fat, India becomes part of around 40 countries globally that have enacted the best practice policies to eliminate trans-fat, and it will be among the first countries in Asia after Thailand to achieve best practice policies in the elimination of trans-fat.

What are Trans-Fats?

Trans fat, also called partially hydrogenated oils, is created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oil. The process is done to make fat more solid. It also lengthens its shelf life and makes it suitable for frying and suitable for other uses as well.

However, trans-fat is not healthy than regular unsaturated fats because high-density lipoproteins pick up excess cholesterol and transport it back to the body’s liver for processing. Consuming trans fat lowers the level of high density lipoproteins in the body.

Artificial trans fat are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid. As they are easy to use and inexpensive in production and also the fact that they last for a longer period and provide a desirable taste and texture to food, they are widely used despite the knowledge regarding their harmful effects.

What are the key FSSAI regulations released in regard to trans-fat in food items?

The key FSSAI regulations in this regard are as follows:

  • Limiting industrial Trans-fat acids to not more than 3 percent in all fats and oils by the month of January 2021 and limiting the same to not more than 2 per cent by January 2022.
  • All food products wherein edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient will not have industrial trans-fatty acids more than 2 per cent by mass of total oil/fat present in the product, on and from January 1, 2022, according to the regulation of Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) regulations.
  • FSSAI has acted in lieu to the amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) regulations. The food regulatory body notified the amendment on December 29 which more than a year after it had issued a draft on the subject for consultation with stakeholders.
  • The FSSAI regulations shall apply to the edible refined oils, vanaspati, margarine bakery shortenings, as well as other medium of cooking like vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads.
  • In 2011 India first passed a regulation that had set a limit of 10 per cent of Trans-fat acids in oils and fats, and it was further limited to 5% in 2015.

What are Industrial Fatty Acids, and what was the need for such FSSAI regulations?

Industrial fatty acids are all geometrical isomers of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that have non-conjugated, interrupted by at least one methylene group, carbon double bonds in the trans configuration. It differentiates trans fatty acids from dairy products, meat products, and fish products.  Industrial trans-fat is produced by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in order to make them more solid, which enhance their stability at room temperature and extends shelf life. 

Trans-fat are present largely in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats/oils vanaspati, margarine bakery shortenings, and it can also be found in baked and fried foods. As per research, higher intakes of industrially produced trans-fatty acids are associated with an enhanced risk of high cholesterol and heart related diseases.

As per the estimates of 2017, every year, more than 15 lakh deaths are reported in India that is attributed to coronary heart disease, out of which close to 5% occur due to the intake of trans-fat. Elimination of Industrial Trans-Fat Acids is recognized as one of the modifiable risk factors that can prevent heart related ailments.

It is important, especially in the current scenario where the Covid-19 pandemic is furthering risk to the people suffering from comorbidities such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, etc. In 2018 the World Health Organization called for the elimination of the industrially produced trans fat from the food supply by 2023 and released the action package “REPLACE for it. In order to facilitate the change towards a trans fatty acids free food supply, the food regulatory body, FSSAI, is also building capacities of the industry and, in this regard, concluded a series of webinar on trans fat recently. 

The webinar was aimed to target specific stakeholders focusing on challenges faced by them towards shifting to trans fat free products and suggesting practical technological solutions through talks made by national experts and international experts.  The webinar was attended by close to 3,700 participants from the food businesses, edible oil industry, bakers, chefs, hoteliers, sweet manufacturers, food analyst from food analytical laboratories and academic institutions.

What are the other Indian measures to reduce Trans-fatty acids?

Some of the other measures include the following:

  • FSSAI launched initiatives for reducing the consumption of Trans-fatty acids that are- Eat Right Movement and Heart Attack Rewind mass media campaign. The Eat Right movement was launched in 2018 and is built on two pillars of Eat Healthy and Eat Safe. It seeks to cut the intake of salt, sugar, and oil by 30% in 3 years. Heart Attack Rewind is a 30 second public service announcement that was broadcasted in 17 languages on social media. The campaign was initiated to warn citizens regarding the health hazards of trans-fat consumption and provide them with strategies to avoid them.
  • Swastha Bharat Yatra is a pan-India cyclothon that was launched under the eat right movement to inform the citizens on food safety, combating food adulteration, and healthy diets.

Conclusion

Health experts have been of the opinion that all FSSAI regulations[1] should apply to all foods and should not be restricted merely to oils and fats. This step taken by FSSAI, to reduce trans fat in food, has been much appreciated as it would lead to a healthier society in the making. 

Read our article: FSSAI introduction of Organic Food Regulations

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Ashish M. Shaji

Ashish M. Shaji has done his graduation in law (BA. LLB) from CCS University. He has keen interests in doing extensive research and writing on legal subjects especially on criminal and corporate law. He is a creative thinker and has a great interest in exploring legal subjects.

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