Friday 18 May 2018

World Health Organization Calls for Universal Ban on Trans Fats

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a recommendation that countries should completely remove trans fats from their food supply, and has offered guidelines to help countries implement the recommendation within the next five years. Trans fats, which have been present in the market for more than 100 years but gained widespread popularity when margarine and shortening became popular in the mid-20th century, are a known factor in numerous chronic health conditions, including heart disease. 


Though trace amounts of trans fats do occur naturally, the vast majority of trans fats in modern diets are found in processed foods. These fats are created when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fats, causing the unsaturated fats to become solid. This makes them ideal for using in supposedly “low fat” or “healthy” substances, such as margarine.
Though science has since caught up, it was thought in the 1950s and 1960s that saturated fats were the main cause of heart disease. Recent studies, however, have suggested that saturated fats probably play less of a role in heart problems than was once thought — if they play any role at all. Meanwhile, the saturated fat-free substances that were created by the food industry by solidifying vegetable oils have now been proven to be highly problematic.


The World Health Organization’s recent recommendation states that trans fats should be completely wiped from the shelves of food stores. In particular, the WHO is attempting to assist developing countries in avoiding the use of trans fats in their food industries.
“We call on food producers in our sector to take prompt action and we stand ready to support effective measures to work toward the elimination of industrially produced trans fats and ensure a level playing field in this area,” Rocco Rinaldi, secretary-general of the International Food and Beverage Alliance, said at a WHO press conference.


The United States’ FDA determined that trans fats were “not generally recognized as safe” in November 2013. After some deliberation, the FDA determined that food manufacturers in the U.S. should find alternatives to trans fats in their products. Beginning in 2015, the FDA offered a three-year period during which to allow manufacturers to find better alternatives. So until that time, you’re not completely guaranteed to be avoiding trans fats — make sure to double check your food labels (anything listed as “partially-hydrogenated oil” is a trans fat). Also, remember that trace amounts of trans fats are naturally occurring in meat and dairy products.

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