The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a global ban on industrially produced trans fats by 2023, in its latest move to combat cardiovascular disease.
The WHO ‘s six-step guideline – titled REPLACE – was announced on 14 May, with a public consultation lasting until 1 June, reported Food Navigator.
The REPLACE guidelines encourage governments to review dietary sources of trans fats and their regulatory policies, promote replacing trans fats with healthier options, enact legislation to eliminate trans fats, monitor their content in foot, create public awareness of their effects and to enforce compliance with regulations.
The WHO recommends that total intake of trans fats should be limited to less than 1% of daily total energy intake. It estimates that trans fats are responsible for more than half a million deaths from cardiovascular disease every year.
The International Food and Beverage Alliance (IDFBA) said its members – which included Danone, Ferrero, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Kellog’s, PepsiCo and Unilever – were already reducing industrially produced trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) to no more than 1g per 100g of product by the end of 2018.
The IDFBA also said that its members would replace PHOs with unsaturated fats whenever possible.
But the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), a US-based consumer watchdog, accused the WHO of an arbitrary intrusion into consumers’ lives.
“Not only will a [trans fat] ban increase costs, but it is unnecessary given that in developed countries, like Canada for example, 97% of the food supply is already trans fat free. Targeting them while the developing world struggles with ebola outbreaks is a gross misappropriation of WHO’s time and energy,” said CCC North American affairs manager David Clement.
Peter G Lurie, president of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) defended the WHO, saying that PHO was still widely used in Africa, India, Middle East and Russia.
“[It] is a potent contributor to cardiovascular disease and is exactly the kind of low-hanging fruit the WHO and governments around the world should be targeting in their public health efforts,” he said.
Industrially produced trans fats are common in hardened vegetable fats like margarine and are often found in snacks, baked and fried foods.