FSSAI notifies regulations to limit industrial trans fat in food items: What is industrial trans fat?

The food regulator added provisions for restriction of sales with respect to the limit of trans fatty acids in food products in the Food Safety and Standards Regulations. 

Created On: Feb 10, 2021 13:27 IST
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The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on February 9, 2021 notified prohibition regulations called the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Second Amendment Regulations, 2021 to limit the content of trans fat in all food items. 

The food regulator added provisions for restriction of sales with respect to the limit of trans fatty acids in food products in the Food Safety and Standards Regulations. 

Significance

With this, India joins the league of 40 nations globally that have enacted best practice policies to eliminate trans fats.

India would be among the first countries in Asia after Thailand in achieving the best-practice policies in trans fat elimination.

Key Highlights

The FSSAI has included a separate clause in the definition for industrial trans fatty acids through the notified regulations. 

As per the regulations, Industrial trans fatty acids means all the geometrical isomers of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids having non-conjugated, interrupted by at least one methylene group, carbon=carbon double bonds in the trans configuration.

It excludes trans-fatty acids from dairy, meat, fish and their products. 

The notified regulations have added another clause specifying the condition for trans fatty acids in Section 2.3, Sub-Section 2.3.14 related to restrictions relating to conditions for sale.

The regulations state that the 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 January 1,
2022.

Besides this, the Food Business Operators (FBOs) were asked to comply with all the provisions of these regulations for all the products manufactured on or after January 1, 2022.

What is Industrial trans fat?

Industrial trans fat is produced by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid, which increases their stability at room temperature and extends shelf life. 

What is Trans fat?

Trans fat is largely found in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats/oils, vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings. They are generally found in baked and fried foods.

What is FSSAI enacting regulations to eliminate Industrial trans fat?

The elimination of industrial TFA has been recognized as one of the modifiable risk factors to prevent heart diseases.

According to FSSAI, research reveals that higher intakes of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids (more than 1 percent of total energy intake) increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart diseases.

This is even more important in the present scenario when the COVID-19 virus is adding risk to people suffering from comorbidities like hypertension, heart diseases and diabetes. 

Background

The FSSAI on December 29, 2020 had notified regulations to limit of trans fatty acids in oils. The FSSAI limited industrial TFA (trans fatty acids) to not more than 3 percent in all fats and oils by January 2021 and not more than 2 percent by January 2022.

As per 2017 estimates, every year more than 1.5 million deaths in India are attributed to coronary heart disease, of which nearly 5 percent (71,000) are due to trans fats intake.

In 2018, the WHO had called for the elimination of industrially-produced trans fat from the food supply by 2023 and released an action package ‘REPLACE’ for the same.

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