FSSAI’s survey on industrially produced TFAs shows dipping trend

INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) baseline survey for presence of industrially produced trans-fatty acid content, has unveiled that only 3.14 per cent of the 6,245 samples of packaged food items collected, contained trans-fat exceeding 2 per cent.

The food regulator had earlier mandated a reduction on the limit of industrially produced trans-fats, to not more than 2 per cent to rid the country of industrially-produced trans-fats by 2022, a year-ahead of the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Industrially produced trans-fatty acids (TFAs) are developed by addition of hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in order to convert them into semi-solid or solid state, and also to increase the shelf life of such oils. They are largely present in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats/oils, vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings, and can also be found in refined oils, baked products, fried foods and composite foods.

FSSAI informed that it carried out the survey in partnership with Quality Council of India (QCI) to assess the market situation. QCI was established to create a mechanism for independent third-party assessment of products, services and processes.

“It is accepted that trans-fat in the diet is a contributing factor for several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Trans-fat raises bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels in a human body which in turn, increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke,” said FSSAI.

Samples of various packaged food items under six pre-defined food categories were collected from 419 districts across 34 Union Territories. As many as 1,051 samples were collected in category 1 – sweets, toppings and chocolates; category 2 – fried foods 1,061 samples; category 3 – bakery and confectionery products 1,072 samples; category 4 – frozen foods 973 samples; category 5- composite foods 1,019 samples; and category 6 – oils, vanaspati, shortenings and margarine 1,069 samples.

The FSSAI statement said all the 6,245 samples of packaged products were collected on a random basis to ensure diversity and sampling of local packaged foods from different strata of food market.

“The results revealed that only 3.14 per cent (196 samples) contained trans-fat exceeding 2 per cent,” said FSSAI.

About 90 per cent (176 samples) of the 196 samples that exceeded 2 per cent trans-fat belonged to the category 6. The analysis of 5,176 samples collected from the other five categories of food products (Category 1-5 ) revealed that nearly 0.4 per cent (20 samples) contained more than 2 per cent trans-fat and less than 3 per cent, while 76 samples contained more than 3 per cent trans-fat.

“The findings of the survey revealed that the food processing industry is positive about FSSAI’s regulation for eliminating the industrially produced trans-fats in foods by 2022,” said FSSAI.

FSSAI said that the survey results rout the perception of excessive usage of industrial trans-fat in processed food products. It added that this study has shown that India is well set to achieve its mandate of eliminating industrially produced trans fats, as reported by The Economic Times.

The regulator said that the compliance with the mandatory national limits on industrially produced trans-fats has to be effectively enforced to eliminate them from the food chain. It mentioned that trans-fat regulation to limit the amount of industrially produced trans- fats containing trans-fatty acids in food products has been enacted by many countries.

According to WHO, increased intake of trans-fat , >1 per cent of total energy intake, is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease mortality and events. Trans-fat intake is responsible for approximately 500,000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year around the world.

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