FDA: Thailand to be trans fat-free in January

FDA: Thailand to be trans fat-free in January

Hypermarket chain Tesco Lotus claims to a frontrunner when it announced all its bakery products would be free of trans fat in June. (Photo supplied by Tesco Lotus)
Hypermarket chain Tesco Lotus claims to a frontrunner when it announced all its bakery products would be free of trans fat in June. (Photo supplied by Tesco Lotus)

The Food and Drug Administration said Thailand would be free of trans-fat foods after a ban takes effect early next year.

A Public Health Ministry notification published in the Royal Gazette on Friday bans the production, imports and sale of partially hydrogenated oils, as well as food containing them, effective 180 days from the publication date, or Jan 9 next year.

It cited as the reason "a clear scientific proof that trans fatty acid contained in such oils increases the risk of coronary artery disease".

Wanchai Sattayawuthipong, secretary-general of the FDA board, advised people to avoid sweet, fatty or salty food such as doughnuts, puffs and pies, which have high content of trans fat, in the meantime.

He explained trans fat, a kind of unsaturated fat, was generally used in fried food to extend shelf life and reduce rancid smell. However, it was later found trans fat raises the risk of coronary diseases.

In Thailand, the FDA discussed trans fat risks with nutritionists at universities and laid a plan to ban it in food production over the past 2-3 years.

"After consulting with food producers and operators, who sought a six-month delay to adjust themselves, we issued the announcement. The FDA believes some operators have already prepared themselves for the change while others may take 3-4 months to comply with the rule. In the meantime, people are advised to avoid doughnuts, puffs, pies or foods that are very sweet, salty or fatty."

He added there was no need to check labels for trans fat after January because all foods containing it will be banned.

Consumption of trans fats has been shown to increase the risk of coronary artery disease by raising levels of bad cholesterol, lowering levels of good cholesterol, increasing triglycerides in the bloodstream and promoting systemic inflammation. 

The World Health Organisation introduced a six-step guide to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply in May.

Trans fats levels can be reduced or eliminated using saturated fats such as lard, palm oil or fully hydrogenated fats. Other alternative formulations can also allow unsaturated fats to be used to replace saturated or partially hydrogenated fats.

Among the foods high in trans fat, unless reformulated to reduce it, are cooking oils and butter alternatives; fried food and baked products.  

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