Packaged food to be trans fat-free by 2022 in India: Food regulator FSSAI

As per the survey conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), only 3.14 percent or 196 of 6,245 samples of the packaged food items contained trans -fat exceeding 2%.

Created On: Sep 24, 2021 11:59 IST
Food Regulator of India
Food Regulator of India

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said on September 22, 2021, that only 3.14 percent or 196 of 6,245 samples of the packaged food items contained trans -fat exceeding 2%.

According to the official statement, FSSAI has mandated to reduce the limit of industrially produced trans-fat, it must not be more than 2%. The step has been taken to make the country free from the industrially produced trans fate by the year 2022, a year ahead of the World Health Organisation guidelines.

The national food regulator cited the pan-India survey results to dismiss the perception of excessive usage of industrial trans fats in processed food products.

Food regulator conducts survey to assess trans- fat in selected food

The food regulator of India, in order to assess the market situation, conducted a baseline survey for the presence of industrially produced trans fatty acid content in the selected food categories. The survey was conducted in partnership with the Quality Council of India (QCI).

Key details of survey:

•  Under the survey, samples of various packaged food items under the six pre-defined food categories were collected from 419 districts/cities across 34 states/ UTs.

•  In category 1- sweets, toppings, and chocolates as many as 1,051 samples were collected; category 2-fried foods, 1061 samples; category 3- bakery and confectionery products, 1,072 samples; category 4- frozen food, 973 samples; category 5- composite foods, 1019 samples; and category 6- vanaspatis, oils, margarine and shortenings, 1,069 samples.

•  As per the official statement, a total of 6,245 samples was collected randomly in order to ensure the sampling and diversity of local packaged foods from different strata of the food market.

•  The trans fat content in the packaged food was determined on the basis of the sum of trans fatty acid isomers, i.e. Elaidate and Linoelaidioate. It was then calculated in terms of the fat content in the processed food samples in the selected NABL accredited testing laboratories.

What was the result of survey by FSSAI?

•  The results of the survey revealed that only 3.14% (196 samples) has contained the trans cate exceeding 2%.

•  About 90% (176 samples) of the 196 samples that exceeded the 2% trans-fat had belonged to category 6 (vanaspati, oils, margarine, and shortenings).

•  The further analysis of the 5176 samples that were collected from other 5 food categories (Category 1-5) has revealed that nearly 20 samples of the category contained trans fat exceeding 2%.

•  The findings of the survey conducted by the Food Regulator of India revealed that the food processing industry is positive about the regulations of FSSAI for eliminating the industrially produced trans fats in foods by 2022.

•  The survey results have also demolished the perception of excessive usage of industrial trans fat in processed food products and have shown that India is ready to achieve its mandate of eliminating industrially-produced trans fats by 2022.

Trans-fatty acids: How are they developed?

The industrially-produced trans-fatty acids are developed by the addition of hydrogen to the liquid vegetable oils. It converts them into solid-state or semi-solid and also increases the shelf life of such oils.

The trans fats are largely present in the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils/fats, margarine, vanaspati, and bakery shortenings. They can also be found in refined oils, fried foods, composite foods, and baked products.

Trans fatty acids on food products: How is it harmful?

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the trans fate regulation to limit the amount of industrially-produced trans fats in food products has been enacted by various countries.

It has been accepted that trans food is a contributing factor for several diseases including diabetes, and cancer. The trans fat in the food raises bad cholesterol levels and lowers the good cholesterol levels, which in turn increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

As per the World Health Organisation, the increased intake of trans fat has been associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease events.

The intake of trans-fat is also responsible for approx. 5,00,000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year all over the world.

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