The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has slashed the amount of trans fatty acids allowed in oils and fats to 3 per cent from 5 per cent.
FSSAI rolled out the new limits through an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations finalising a draft that was issued last year. Here’s why it is important.
What is trans fat?
According to the World Health Organisation, trans fat, or trans-fatty acids, are unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources. Naturally occurring trans fat comes from cows and sheep whereas industrially produced trans fat are formed in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, converting the liquid into a solid, resulting in ‘partially hydrogenated oil’.
What does the new government notification say?
The FSSAI’s new regulation says that the maximum limit of trans fatty acid shall not be more than 3 per cent by weight, on and from January 1, 2021, and not more than 2 per cent by weight, on and from January 1, 2022.
Why are trans fats dangerous?
Trans fats have a specific chemical structure, that our body finds hard to metabolise and also trans fats have no physiological role to play in our body. Trans fats increase ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and reduce ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, and can trigger diabetes, immune dysfunction and obesity among other things. The WHO estimates that every year, trans fat leads to more than 5,00,000 deaths worldwide, mostly from cardiovascular diseases. Hence, eliminating trans fats is crucial.
Those who eat more trans fats have higher levels of C-reactive protein (a biomarker for inflammation in the body). Further, trans fat consumption is linked with poor memory and higher risk for dementia too.
Which foods contain trans fats?
Fried and packaged foods along with vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings are some food items that contain trans fats. According to the FSSAI, bakery items such as biscuits, cookies, doughnuts, rusk, cake and packaged foods such as bhujia, namkeen mixtures, chips, corn, tortilla chips and microwave popcorn contains trans fats. All kinds of fried foods and especially those cooked in reused oil contain trans fat.