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WHO develops a plan to eliminate industrial trans fats
24 mayo 2018


Trans fat. The World Health Organization (WHO) presented on May 14th a guide to eliminate industrial trans fats from the global food supply. The document proposes an articulated work scheme between the governments of the member countries and the private sector to protect health in the face of the fatal consequences that these products bring to more than 500 thousand people a year. Among the suggestions is the promotion of legislation that prohibits trans fats and measures that encourage the replacement of this type of fats with healthier ones. In 2019, the WHO will start working on an agenda of incidence on decision makers to achieve the elimination of these consumptions in 2023.

WHO considers that there are healthier options, without sacrificing the taste or the costs of the products. It encourages governments to implement the REPLACE (Review, Promote, Legislate, Assess, Create Awareness & Enforce) measures to achieve the proposed objective. The Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that “the execution of this program will help eliminate trans fats and will be a great victory against cardiovascular diseases.”

The guide includes a series of strategic areas for the elimination of trans fats. It proposes to review the dietary sources from which most of them are originated, to promote the change for other fats and healthier oils, to prohibit this component of industrial production through laws, to monitor this ingredient in products and changes in the consumption of the population. It also recommends promoting a plan for diagnosis, awareness and impact on those responsible for formulating regulatory policies, as well as suppliers, producers and people in general and forcing compliance with the measures taken.

In the Americas, the United States and Canada will have implemented bans on hydrogenated oils by the end of 2018. While Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador have set limits  of 2 percent to industrial trans fats. As for food specifically, Argentina and Colombia have a more flexible cap of 5 percent. Eight countries in South America have mandatory labeling, as a consequence of the declaration “Free America of Trans Fat” signed in 2009 and adopted previously by the MERCOSUR trade bloc in 2006. Brazil approved in 2018 a ban on hydrogenated oils, which will become effective as of 2021.

Next steps

With the aim of eradicating the production of trans fats by the year 2023 and limiting its consumption to less than 1 percent of the energy contribution, the WHO carries out a public consultation until June 1st, inclusive. The project reviews the guidelines for the consumption of saturated and trans fats in adults and children. The purpose is to offer instruments to governments to eliminate production and reduce consumption of these components, focusing on the countries most affected by their low and middle income.