Experts have demanded a new law and its quick and proper implementation to control the use of excessive trans fat (trans fatty acid) in food, which is harmful to human health.
They said the law should allow the use of only two grams of trans fat in every 100g of fat in any food.
The demand was placed at a press conference organised at the National Press Club on Saturday to mark the release of the results of a study on the amount of trans fat in partially hydrogenated oil (PHO).
The study found that 92 percent of Dhaka's PHO samples contained more than two percent of trans fat recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In every 100g of PHO samples, up to a maximum of 20.9g of trans fat was found, which is more than 10 times the level recommended by the WHO.
Researchers from the National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute have obtained this result by analysing samples of PHO brands in Dhaka. The study was supported by Professor Nazma Shaheen of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Dhaka, Global Health Advocacy Incubator (CHHI), Consumer Association of Bangladesh and Pragya (Knowledge for Progress).
According to the study, the country's public health will be at serious risk if necessary steps are not taken to control trans fat in the shortest possible time following the recommendations of the WHO.
Researchers at the press conference said two lakh six thousand people die of heart disease in the country every year. Trans fat is one of the reasons for these deaths. They said Bangladesh has no policy to eliminate trans fat, as a result, the amount of trans fat in food is more than the acceptable level.
Excessive trans fat intake increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, said the researchers. According to them, foods with trans fat increase bad cholesterol in the blood and lower good cholesterol and make people sick.
According to the World Health Organization, about five and a half million people worldwide die of heart disease each year due to trans fat intake.
Industrial trans fat is usually found in fried and baked foods. When hydrogen is added to vegetable oils (palm, soybean, etc.), the oil accumulates and trans fat is produced. This partially hydrogenated oil or PHO is known in our country as Dalda or vegetable ghee.
According to the World Health Organization, a person's daily trans fat intake should be less than one percent of total dietary energy. That means the amount should be less than 2.2g in a daily 2,000-calorie diet.
Considering the widespread health hazards of trans fat, Denmark set the highest trans fat limit in food in 2003 at two percent of total fats.
Some 28 countries including Austria, Norway, South Africa, Thailand, Iran, and India have imposed the maximum limit of trans fat in food.
Thailand, Singapore, America, and Canada have banned the production and use of PHO, the main source of trans fat. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has announced that the maximum level of trans fat will be reduced to two percent by 2022. It has also declared it will eliminate the use of industrial trans fat in food.
To change the situation, the World Health Organization announced the 'REPLACE' action package in 2018, which aims to achieve an industrial trans fat-free world by 2023.
Dr Shohel Reza Chowdhury, one of the members of the research team presented the results of the research. Professor Nazma Shaheen of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, Dhaka University, Research Adviser Abu Ahmed Shamim, Programme Coordinator of Consumer Association of Bangladesh Ahmed Ekramullah and others were present at the press conference.