Excessive amount of trans fat in food is harmful and one of the leading causes of heart disease. Trans fat-induced heart diseases cause an estimated 500,000 deaths every year around the world. Bangladesh is also witnessing an increased number of deaths from trans fat related various non-communicable diseases, especially, heart disease. Although “Controlling Trans-Fatty Acid in Foodstuffs Regulation 2021” has been passed to ensure trans-fat-free food, it has not come into effect yet. Speedy implementation of the regulation is essential to safeguard public health. Speakers highlighted this information at a webinar titled “Trans-fat in food, Heart Disease Risk and Way Forward”, organized by research and advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) with support from Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) on Monday, October 16, on the occasion of World Food Day 2023.
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.
Monzur Morshed Ahmed, Member (Public Health and Nutrition), Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) informed at the webinar, “We are currently making progress in phases towards the implementation of trans fatty acid regulation. Although the companies have claimed to face certain technical limitations in terms of adopting the regulation, we are optimistic about commencing its implementation soon.”
Dr. Abu Jamil Faisel, President Elect, Public Health Association of Bangladesh said, “Excessive amount of trans fat in food is linked with not only heart disease but also with various types of cancers. It is important to establish close collaboration with relevant traders to accelerate the implementation of this regulation.”
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.
SM Nazer Hossain, Vice President, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), 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.