The government has taken an initiative to formulate a policy to check the use of harmful trans fats in food.
The Technical Committee on Trans fats, formed by the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, at a recent meeting decided in principle to formulate the policy.
As per the decision, Bangladesh Safe Food Authority is now working on formulation of a draft policy to this end, official sources said.
Chief of the technical committee and member of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority Manzur Morshed said the meeting decided in principle to formulate a policy to control the use of harmful trans fats in food.
He said work is underway to formulate the policy and it is expected to be completed within the next six months.
Manzur said the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended limiting the maximum use of trans fats in food to two grams by 2023.
The committee has also been working to implement the WHO recommendations in Bangladesh within the stipulated time, he added.
The policy will be formulated in consultation with the Ministry of Industry, the Commerce Ministry and industry owners, Manzur said.
Coronary heart diseases (CHD) and deaths from CHDs owing to consumption of trans fats are preventable. In spite of the global progress in eliminating trans fats, such deaths continue.
The WHO Report on Global Trans Fat Elimination 2020 released on 9 September, 2020, revealed that two third of the deaths from CHD due to consumption of trans fats occur in 15 countries, including Bangladesh.
The burden of deaths from CHD due to trans fat intake in Bangladesh is 4.41 percent according to the report.
Among the 15 countries, the USA, Latvia, Canada, and Slovenia have adopted best practice policies meaning that they have limited the maximum level of trans fats in all fats, oils, and foods to 2 g per 100 g of total fat contents, or banned the production and use of partially hydrogenated oil (PHO).
The WHO has called to the remaining 11 countries (Bangladesh, Iran, India, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Bhutan and Ecuador) to act immediately to protect their populations from the harms of trans fats.
Ahmed Ekramullah, a programme coordinator of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said consumers are at high health risk as there is no policy in the country to control trans fats.
He said the government and consumer rights organisations should work together to check trans fats use considering the health risk.
Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Bangladesh Country Leader of Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), said following the WHO recommendations, many countries, including India, Thailand and Brazil, have already adopted policies to check trans fats use in food, while Bangladesh is working to formulate a policy in this regard.
"The process of building a trans fat-free Bangladesh cannot be delayed through any excuse. Eliminating trans fats will save thousands of people here from the deadly heart disease every year," ABM Zubair, Executive Director of PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), told BSS.
During a recent study of the National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute (NHFHRI), about 92 percent of sampled PHO brands in Dhaka City were found containing trans-fatty acid (TFA) levels above the limit of two percent set by WHO.