Countries urged to wipe out killer trans fats from foods

WHO plans to strike trans-fats from global food supply

WHO plans to strike trans-fats from global food supply

As global awareness grew on trans fats' role in cardiovascular diseases, health officials knew they had to take a stand. Partnerships formed between the agricultural and health ministries, the business and consumer sectors, and academia.The Government's final decision to adopt a mandatory approach helped the country virtually rid its food of industrially-produced trans fats by 2014.

Trans fats are finding their way onto too many plates, and they need to be eliminated - ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease have become first and second causes of premature mortality, and the majority of these cases occur in low and middle-income countries.

World Health Organization estimates every year trans-fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease. The United States and Canada are set to introduce nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils - the main source of artificial trans fat, this year.

It said excessive amounts of saturated fat and trans fats should be replaced by polyunsaturated fats, such as fish, canola and olive oils. "Numerous fats are in foods or oils made by local producers", Betsy McKay and Jacob Bunge write for the Wall Street Journal. But trans fats remain widely used where regulators and food makers have been slower to take action.

Countries will likely have to use regulation or legislation to get food makers to make the switch, experts said.

Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called trans fats "an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills", noting that NY got rid of it a decade ago.

The new REPLACE program is WHO's first time calling for the elimination of something besides a non-communicable disease.


"The world is now setting its sights on today's leading killers - particularly heart disease, which kills more people than any other cause in nearly every country", said Frieden, president of Resolve to Save Lives, a New-York-based project of an organization called Vital Strategies.

"The first trans fatty food to hit the US market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911".

Trans fats are popular with manufacturers of fried, baked and snack foods because they have a long shelf life, but they are bad for consumers, increasing the risk of heart disease by 21 per cent and deaths by 28 per cent, a World Health Organization statement said. "They used them in such fare as doughnuts, cookies and deep-fried foods", Stobbe continues.

Trans fats increases levels of LDL-cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk.

In the recent history of popular nutrition, trans fat has experienced perhaps the most meteoric rise and precipitous fall from grace of anything in our foods. Natural trans fats are only produced in small quantities in the gut of some animals, while artificial trans fats are much more common and are created through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. The same year the FDA required manufacturers to list trans fat content information on food labels.

For food oil manufacturers like Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bunge Ltd. and Cargill Inc., the challenge has been replacing partially hydrogenated oils without altering the taste, texture and consistency that diners expect.

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