Prolonged high consumption of trans fatty acids (TFA) increases the risk of non-communicable diseases and death. Globally, approximately half a million people die of coronary heart disease (CHD) that can be directly linked to TFA consumption. In India, this number is as high as 72,000 people annually.
Fast food industry can play an important role in eliminating this harmful chemical from oils, fats, and food by adopting the WHO recommended threshold of less than 2 per cent trans fats by 2023. At an online discussion organised by CII SKA - FACE and Consumer VOICE, on World Food Day, several major industry leaders came together to discuss how Indian fast food is taking important steps in that direction.
“It makes perfect business sense for us to quickly adopt this healthier threshold as consumers are more aware now.” said Dr Prabodh Halde, Head, Global Regulatory, Marico Ltd. “Industry actually welcomes this step towards a healthier direction. Technological advancement has ensured that we can easily achieve this goal”, he added.
Biprabuddha Chatterjee, Head – R&D, Adani Wilmar shared that it was relatively simple to reduce levels of TFA in oils and hydrogenated fats. “Challenge lay in converting foods that require a solid fat ingredient such as all bakery and confectionary products.”
Devender Yadav, Vice President- Quality , Food Safety and Regulatory, Jubilant Food Works Ltd, shared that his company has already reduced the level of hydrogenated fats with alternate fats in their products and that this transition has been cost-effective. “All our offerings and products are trans-fat free. We are continuously working on to implementing alternate options. It’s a journey, so we are also working on to reducing sugar, salt level from our food products as well.”
Indian regulatory authority FSSAI has already taken important steps. Two proposed draft regulations limiting TFA to 3 per cent and 2 per cent by January 2021 and 2022 respectively are waiting to be notified and implemented. According to Dr Rubeena Shaheen, Director Standards, FSSAI, “We can achieve the target of 2 per cent TFA following the WHO guidelines by the given time. Yes, states will have to enforce but FSSAI has been taking several steps and initiatives through different media and workshops to educate consumers too.”
Ashim Sanyal, COO, Consumer VOICE stated, “Sensitisation and capacity building of these medium and small size food industry will be extremely critical. Alternatives are already available. We just need to get them applied in eradicating trans-fat from our food supplies.”