There is no alternative to ensuring food standards to safeguard public health. The risk of various non-communicable diseases including heart disease is growing increasingly in Bangladesh due to excessive amount of trans fat in food, which is alarming. Although the government has passed the “Controlling Trans-Fatty Acid in Foodstuffs Regulation 2021” to ensure trans-fat-free food, no progress has been noticed so far in terms of its implementation. Speedy implementation of the trans-fat limiting regulation is required to safeguard public health. Speakers highlighted this information at a webinar titled “Trans-fat in food and Heart Disease Risk: Way Forward”, organized by research and advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) with support from Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) on Wednesday, June 07, 2023 on the occasion of World Food Safety Day. “Food Standards Save Lives” is the theme for World Food Safety Day this year.
The main source of trans fat is Partially Hydrogenated Oil (PHO), which is also known as Dalda or Banaspati Ghee. Generally, PHO or dalda is used in preparing baked foods, processed foods, and fried snacks, as well as in food preparation by restaurants and street food vendors. Globally, almost 500,000 people die every year due to trans fat-induced heart diseases.
Professor Dr. Md Abdul Alim, Member (Food Industry & Production), Bangladesh Food Safety Authority said, “Immediate action must be taken to implement the trans-fat limiting regulation and protect people from trans fat-induced diseases.”
Enamul Hoque, Deputy Director (Agriculture and Food), Standards Wing, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) informed at the webinar, “BSTI has already started the process of standardization to reduce the amount of trans fat in food to the recommended level as per the regulations.”
Professor Dr. Sohel Reza Choudhury, Head of Department of Epidemiology & Research, National Heart Foundation said, “Eliminating trans fats from food by implementing the regulations will help bring the general public under preventive measures and reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Shamsun Naher Nahid, Head of Nutrition at the Department of Diet and Nutrition of BIRDEM General Hospital said, “Trans fat increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing the amount of good fat and increasing the amount of bad fat in the body.”
According to the WHO report on Global Trans-fat Elimination 2022, 43 countries including neighboring India have implemented best-practice policies for tackling trans fat in food. However, Bangladesh is still lagging behind in this issue.
Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Bangladesh Country Lead of GHAI, and ABM Zubair, Executive Director of PROGGA were also present at the webinar as discussants. The webinar was moderated by PROGGA’s Coordinator Sadia Galiba Prova. People of different professions from different regions of the country participated in the webinar.