Trans-fatty acids cannot exceed more than 2 percent of oils/fats present in food products from January 2022. The regulation, Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Second Amendment Regulations, 2021, notified on February 2, places India in the league of countries that have best practice policies for elimination of trans-fat from food products.
It was in 2018, World Health Organisation (WHO) came out with a step-by-step guide on elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from global food supply after it found that every year trans-fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease. Industrially-produced trans-fats are partially hydrogenated oils contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods as it increases the shelf life of the products.
In a statement, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said that with the recent regulation, India joins the club of around 40 countries globally that have already enacted the best practice policies to eliminate trans fats and would be among the first countries in Asia after Thailand in achieving the best-practice policies in trans-fat elimination. According to 2017 estimates, every year more than 1.5 million deaths in India are attributed to coronary heart disease, of which nearly 5% (71,000) are due to trans fats intake, it said.
The agency said that in order to facilitate the transition towards a Trans Fatty Acids free food supply, FSSAI is also building capacities of the industry and recently concluded a series of webinars on the issue. "Each webinar was planned to target specific stakeholders focusing on challenges faced by them towards making a shift to trans-fat free products and suggesting practical technological solutions through talks delivered by national and international experts. The webinars were attended by nearly 3,700 participants from the edible oil industry, food businesses, bakers, chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers, sweet and namkeen manufacturers, food analysts from food analytical laboratories and academic institutions," FSSAI statement said.
WHO has called for elimination of industrially-produced trans-fat from the food supply by 2023.