World Health Organization plans to eliminate trans fats from food by 2023


"Trans-fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there's no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed", said Tom Frieden, a former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control who now leads the Resolve health initiative.

It includes replacing trans-fats with healthier fats and oils, creating awareness of the negative health impact and monitoring content in the food supply and changes in consumption patterns.

Trans fats are found in products manufacturers want to give a longer shelf life.

However, as the World Health Organization pointed out in their suggestions, many high-income countries have been able to encourage companies to lower or eliminate their trans fat use, while low- to middle-income countries might not have the resources to instigate a ban. They are often present in frying oils, fried snacks, margarine and shortening since trans fat-based oils have a longer shelf life (don't worry, Canada has almost phased them out entirely in those products). But healthier alternatives, which are generally more expensive, can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food.

For many years, trans fats were in baked goods of all kinds, such as burekas, doughnuts, cookies and crackers; ice cream; frostings; processed meat; nondairy coffee whiteners; commercially fried products, including those made from meats and poultry; and many other types of foods in Israel.

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Trans fats should be less than 1 per cent of the total count (less than 2.2gm per day in a 2,000 calorie); both fats must be replaced by polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fat.

The initiative to eliminate trans-fatty acids from the global food supply is part of WHO's broader strategic plan, called the draft 13th General Programme of Work (GPW13). This is because they're used in partially-hydrogenated oils, which were first used as a butter replacement and then later as a replacement for foods containing saturated fatty acids.

"Trans fats increases levels of L.D.L. -cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk, and decreases levels of H.D.L. -cholesterol, which carry away cholesterol from arteries and transport it to the liver, that secretes it into the bile", according to WHO. "In addition, there are indications that trans fat may increase inflammation and endothelial dysfunction".

Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food. The country has witnessed improvement in the citizens' health and a reduction in deaths by way of cardiovascular disease.