Campaigns to eliminate trans fats that are killing people in India by thousands

Published: Dec 4, 2018, 9:05 am IST

Samikhsya Bureau

Trans fats may help increase the shelf life of food items but evidence shows they are like slow poison for human beings.

According to studies, over five lakh people die every year across the world from cardiovascular disease due to trans fat intake. In India alone, the number of death is around 60,000.

Considering the dangerous consequences of trans fat intake, the WHO has started a programme in May to eliminate the industrially produced trans fat from the food supply chain across the world by 2023. Now, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched a campaign to eliminate it from food supply in India.

Named “Heart Attack Rewind”, the FSSAI’s campaign started from November 30. The first mass media campaign of its kind, it is a 30-second public service announcement supporting the FSSAI’s target of eliminating trans fat by 2022 in India, a year earlier than WHO’s global target, a statement by the organisation said.

The announcement to be broadcast on YouTube, Hotstar and Voot over four weeks in 17 languages will warn people about the health hazards of consuming trans fat. It will also talk about ways to avoid it through better alternatives.

According to FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal, FSSAI is committed to reducing the industrially produced trans fatty acids to less than 2% by the targeted time in a phased manner. Heart Attack Rewind follows an earlier campaign called “Eat Right”, launched on July 11. As part of Eat Right, edible oil industries had taken a pledge to reduce trans fat content by 2% by 2022.

Trans fats are found in several foods including fried edibles, baked foods and frozen pizzas. There are two types of trans fats that are found in food – naturally occurring and artificial. Foods like milk and meat produced from animals may contain small quantities of naturally occurring trans fats. But artificial trans fats are made through industrial process by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid.

According to American Heart Association, they are used in food because they give it the required taste and texture and increase the food’s gestation period. Despite their proven harmful effects, trans fats are widely used. “Many restaurants and fast food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry food because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers,” says the association’s website, www.heart.org.

The association recommends that adults can reduce their trans fat intake by following a dietary pattern that emphasises on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy product, fish and nuts, and limiting commercially fried food and baked goods made with hydrogenated oil.

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