WHO publishes standardised method for measuring TFAs in food
March 29, 2021
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by Arabella Seebaluck

The World Health Organisation has launched a new programme to deal with trans-fatty acids (TFA) related health issues. The organisation has released a protocol which lays down a ‘globally-harmonised method to measure trans fats in foods.’

This method will help countries to be more aware of the levels of TFA in their food. This is in line with the World Health Organisation’s aim to eliminate industrially produced TFA from global food supply by 2023, which is part of WHO’s REPLACE package, where every letter stands for an area of action.

Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fat and the landscape for required policy change.

Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fat with healthier fats and oils. 

Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fat.

Assess and monitor trans fat content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population.

Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fat among policy-makers, producers, suppliers, and the public.

Enforce compliance with policies and regulations.

Collecting this data will help countries monitor their changes over time and inform policy decisions, according to the WHO. WHO will also conduct training workshops in the coming year.

Increased consumption of TFA leads to heart diseases and is responsible for at least 540,000 deaths. High trans-fat intake increases the risk of death from any cause by 34%, coronary heart disease deaths by 28%, and coronary heart disease by 21%.

What are TFAs
According to the WHO trans-fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids that come from natural or industrial sources. TFAs from industrial sources are produced when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, solidifying it. Trans-fat has no known health benefits yet. 

TFA consumption trend across the world
According to a 2017 review of trans-fat intake in different parts of the world, its consumption is below 1% in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom

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