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Global agribusiness giant Cargill has committed its complete edible oils portfolio to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) best practice on industrially-produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs), the company announced on 6 December.

As part of its drive to remove iTFAs from its edible oils portfolio, Cargill said the move would help the company and its customers comply with the WHO’s recommended standard of a maximum of 2g iTFA/100g fats/oils by the end of 2023.

The WHO's REPLACE initiative provides a guide for governments and industry to implement best practice on iTFA in the global food supply chain to address related health concerns.

In making the move, Cargill joins many of the world’s largest food companies and members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) who have committed to the WHO goal.

“This commitment… gives us the opportunity as a collective industry to remove iTFAs from the global food supply no matter where food is manufactured or consumed,” David Webster, leader of Cargill's food ingredients and bio-industrial enterprise and chief risk officer said.

Over the last 25 years, Cargill said it had removed an estimated 500,000 tonnes of iTFAs from the global food supply, resulting in approximately 89% of its global edible oils portfolio meeting the WHO's iTFA best practice to date.

With this commitment, the company said it would achieve 100% compliance, including in countries where there was currently no legislative mandate.

To achieve this final 11%, the company said it was significantly investing in upgrades at a number of facilities to reduce the amount of iTFAs produced during the oil manufacturing process and developing alternative formulations to meet the WHO’s best practice.

Primarily formed through the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils (PHO), iTFAs also result from high thermal treatment during the refining process.

While iTFA regulations were in place in approximately 40 countries, either through PHO bans or limits to maximum amounts of iTFAs in food, they remained a health concern in many locations, Cargill said.