– FSSAI has cut down the maximum permitted trans fats in fats and oils. At 5 per cent, the new standards are half of the earlier limit and will come into force by August 2016
-CSE welcomes this regulation and has demanded stringent control on trans fats after finding high amounts in its 2009 study on edible fats and oils
-Consumption of trans fats is strongly linked to several non-communicable diseases. The new limit is an important milestone in controlling growing non-communicable diseases in India
New Delhi, September 2: In a development that augurs well for the health of Indians, the food safety and standards authority of India (FSSAI) has reduced permitted trans fats in edible fats and oils in the country from 10 to 5 per cent. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had been campaigning for this since its study in 2009 found high trans fats content in cooking oils. Welcoming this move, CSE Director General Sunita Narain said, “The 5 per cent limit is a step in the right direction. Although slowly, we have progressed from having a 10 per cent limit first set a couple of years ago. We should aim to reduce it further to near-zero levels,” she said.
FSSAI in its latest notification on the issue has reduced the maximum permitted amount of trans fats to 5 per cent (by weight) in hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine and fat spreads and interesterified vegetable fat. The new limit will be enforced by August 2016 and will replace the earlier limit of 10 per cent that was set in 2013.
CSE, in its 2009 study on 30 brands of cooking oils, found trans fats in all vanaspati (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) brands to be 5-12 times higher than the standard of Denmark—two per cent of the total fat content. The study intensified the debate on need for trans fat standards. In 2013, after having proposed a draft in 2010, the authority came up with a relaxed limit of 10 percent. CSE had been advocating for at least a 5 per cent limit since then.
“India has a huge and growing number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Consumption of junk foods is also rising across all sections of society and age-groups. It is no longer limited to urban areas. Keeping this in view, the new regulation is an important milestone in containing the burden of non-communicable disease,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
Trans fats are formed on hydrogenation of vegetable oils to make them into vansapati. Globally, consumption of trans fats through cooking medium or ultra-processed junk foods is strongly linked with non-communicable diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been advising countries to limit its consumption. In a similar attempt, the US in June 2015 recognised the use of partially hydrogenated oils as unsafe and banned its use by food product manufacturers within three years.