WHO launches ‘REPLACE’ to eliminate trans fat in foods by 2023

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a comprehensive plan to eliminate industrially-produced artificial trans fats from the global food supply by 2023. Elimination of trans fats is key to protecting health and saving lives, the WHO said. The global health body estimates that every year, trans fat intake leads to over 5,00,000 deaths worldwide from cardiovascular diseases. Industrially-produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack, baked, and fried foods. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats.

But, healthier alternatives can be used, which would not affect taste or cost of food, the WHO said in a statement yesterday. “WHO calls on governments to use the ‘REPLACE’ action package to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply,” WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said. “Implementing the six strategic actions in the ‘REPLACE’ package will help achieve the elimination of trans-fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular diseases,” he said.

The initiative provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from food supply. In Denmark, the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans fats, the trans-fat content of food products declined dramatically and cardiovascular disease deaths declined more quickly, the statement said. “New York city eliminated industrially-produced trans-fat a decade ago, following Denmark’s lead,” Dr Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, said.

Trans-fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there is no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed to it, Frieden said. He said action is needed in low and middle-income countries, where controls of use of industrially-produced trans fats are often weaker, to ensure that the benefits are felt equally around the world.

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