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Monday June 24, 2024

Stakeholders call for regulation of trans-fatty acids in foods

By Our Correspondent
May 21, 2024
This representational image shows a burger and chips. — Unsplash/File
This representational image shows a burger and chips. — Unsplash/File

Islamabad:The Transform Pakistan campaign managed by civil society organisations, Pakistan Youth Change Advocates (PYCA), Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), Heartfile, Unicef, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and many others urged Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) to take decisive steps towards regulating industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) to less than 2 per cent in all type of foods in Pakistan, without any further delay.

Currently, Pakistan is categorised as partially meeting the criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding trans-fat regulation and is placed in the less restrictive category. While significant progress has been made with the inclusion of banaspati ghee, bakery shortenings, biscuits, rusk and breads, and bakery items under regulation in 2023, Pakistan still falls short of WHO recommended best practices policy. To fully meet these standards for best practice policy, it is imperative that all foods should be covered through a single regulation, with mandatory limits of no more than 2 percent of iTFAs of the total fats.

Areebah Shahid, executive director at PYCA, emphasised the importance of this comprehensive approach, stating, “The health of our nation is at stake, and it is imperative that we take decisive action to protect the well-being of our citizens. By regulating trans-fatty acids in all foods, we can significantly reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases and improve public health outcomes.”

Mukhtar Ahmed, executive director of CPDI, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the need for government intervention, ‘Regulating trans-fatty acids is a public health imperative. It is the responsibility of the government to prioritise the health of its citizens by ensuring that all foods meet established safety standards.’ Dr. Saba Amjad, CEO of Heartfile, emphasised the urgency of the matter, stating, “Trans-fatty acids pose a serious risk to cardiovascular health and contribute to a range of non-communicable diseases.