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Who rewards countries that fight fatty acids

Awarded the first 5 certificates for progress achieved in Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Thailand

For the first time in its history, the WHO, the World Health Organisation, has rewarded countries that have made progress in eliminating industrially produced trans fats. More precisely, the body awarded its first certificates -which in fact validate this progress- to five countries: Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. According to the WHO, they have "demonstrated that they have adopted a policy of elimination of industrially produced trans fatty acids (iTFA), supported by adequate monitoring and application systems". 

The WHO Validation Programme for the Elimination of iTFAs recognises those countries that have gone beyond the introduction of good practice policies, ensuring strict monitoring and enforcement systems. The WHO took the opportunity to announce the results of the first five years of its initiative Replace for the elimination of iTFA. 

"Although the ambitious goal set by the WHO in 2018, that is to completely eliminate iTFA from the world food supply by the end of 2023, has not been achieved -underlines the official statement of the organization-, Considerable progress has been made towards this goal in every region of the world. Only in 2023, in 7 countries (Egypt, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, North Macedonia, the Philippines and Ukraine) will new policies of good practice take effect".

Trans fatty acids (TFA) are semi-solid to solid fats that come in two forms: industrially produced and naturally occurring. Taking TFA is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and death from heart disease. Not only that: TFA have no known health benefits, and high-content foods such as fried foods, desserts, and ready meals are often high in sugar, fat, and salt.

"A total of 53 countries now have in place the best practices to deal with the iTFA in food -the WHO emphasizes-, greatly improving the food environment for 3.7 billion people, or 46% of the world population, compared to 6% just 5 years ago". The organization predicts that these policies will save about 183,000 lives per year.

"Trans fats have no known health benefits, but huge risks -explains Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, General Manager of the WHO-. We are very pleased that many countries have introduced policies to ban or limit trans fats in food. But the introduction of a policy is one thing, its implementation is another. I congratulate Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, which are at the forefront of monitoring and implementing their policies on trans fats. We urge other countries to follow their example".

Best practices in the elimination of iTFA policies follow WHO criteria. There are two best practice policy options although, for some countries, an optimal programme involves the implementation of both policies due to trans-fat sources: 

  1. mandatory national limit of 2 grams of iTFA per 100 grams of total fat in all foods; 
  2. mandatory national ban on the production or use of partially hydrogenated oils (one of the main sources of trans fats) as an ingredient in all foods. 

The WHO also encourages food producers, producers of raw materials and final food products, to eliminate TFA from their products. 

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EFA News - European Food Agency