Excessive amounts of trans-fat in food is one of the leading causes of heart disease and speedy implementation of the Controlling Trans-Fatty Acid in Foodstuffs Regulations 2021 is essential to safeguard public health, said health experts at a webinar on Monday.
Despite the government passing the regulations to ensure trans-fat-free food, it has not yet taken effect, they said.
Speakers highlighted this information at the webinar "Trans-fat in food, Heart Disease Risk, and Way Forward," organised by research and advocacy organisation PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) with support from the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) on 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.
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."
Monzur Morshed Ahmed, member (public health and nutrition), Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA), said, "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."
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.