Advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) urges to speedily enact and implement policies following WHO guidelines of limiting trans fat to 2% of total fat in all fats, oils, and foods on the occasion of World Food Day tomorrow.
Furthermore, the organisation thinks restrictions must be placed for complementary measures such as mandating TFA levels to be listed on prepackaged items' nutrition facts panels, requiring partially-hydrogenated oils to be included on ingredients lists, requiring front-of-package labels that note when products contain TFA, and restricting the use of health claims related to TFA – such as "TFA-free" or "low in TFA", accordign to a press release.
ABM Zubair, executive director of PROGGA said, "Trans fat causes 4.41% of all the deaths from cardiovascular diseases in Bangladesh, according to WHO. Hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved through mandatory trans fat restrictions. So, we must enact necessary policies without further delay."
Every year World Food Day is celebrated on October 16 and this year's theme is "Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions are our future".
Industrially produced trans fat in food is one of the major causes for increased risks of heart diseases. Globally, circa 250,000 people die of heart diseases due to consumption of trans fat-laden food.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the fact of much greater concern is that Bangladesh ranks among the 15 countries with the highest burden of deaths from trans fat induced heart diseases.
Industrially produced transfat in food primarily comes from Partially Hydrogenated Oil or PHO, which is familiar as dalda or bonospoti in Bangladesh. PHO or dalda is commonly used in preparing fried snacks, baked goods, as well as food preparation by restaurants and street food vendors.
In a recent study, the National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute has found 92 per cent of sampled PHOs from Dhaka city to contain trans fat (TFA) levels above the 2 percent limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The sampled PHOs even showed a staggering high concentration of TFA, 20.9g per 100 grams, which is more than 10 times the WHO-set threshold. Bangladesh is yet to introduce any law or regulation to protect the public health from the harms of TFA. However, very recently the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) has decided to promulgate regulations limiting TFA to 2% of the total fat contents of all fats, oils, and foods. In addition, the committee has already prepared a position paper to regulate TFA.