The World Health Organisation (WHO) this week released REPLACE, a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply.
Companies manufacturing processed food in the UK are not allowed to use trans fats. However, the fats can still be found in some cheap foods imported from other countries.
WHO estimates that every year, trans fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease.
Industrially-produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods.
Manufacturers are drawn to them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. However, healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food, according to WHO.
WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “WHO calls on governments to use the REPLACE action package to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply.
“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 disease.”
Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food. Some governments have implemented nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans fats.
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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 than in comparable countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.