Experts call for legislation to control industrial trans-atty acid risks-News

Experts call for legislation to control industrial trans-atty acid risks-News-SDPI

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Experts call for legislation to control industrial trans-atty acid risks

ISLAMABAD: Experts at the launch of a policy document on Monday demanded a multi-stakeholder engagement to increase awareness of risks from industrial trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) proliferating in the food range of the country.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Cargill launched the policy brief on ‘Reducing industrial trans fatty acids in Pakistan’. It chalked out the regulatory landscape and actionable recommendations to curb iTFAs in the country.

Usman Qaiyyum, Country Lead Cargill-Pakistan, said almost one billion people were obese in the world making it 13-14pc of the total population with more trend of obesity in the new generation, which was found less in the older generation due to the shift towards fast foods and bakery items having a higher ratio of iTFAs.

“Obesity alone incurred $2 trillion economic impact around the world that includes medical cost, number of other things, low productivity of obese individuals, employment and mental health challenges and is expected to reach beyond $3 trillion by 2030,” he said.

Dr Tahira Siddiqui, Deputy Director Islamabad Food Authority, said that the unsaturated naturally produced trans-fatty acids (TFAs) mainly acquired from meat and dairy sources were healthy, but the saturated TFAs produced industrially by hydrogenation of palm oil were causing serious dietary risks leading to cancer and ischemic heart diseases.

“Pakistan is the second highest consumer of trans-fats in the Eastern Mediterranean region. However, this policy brief has focused on developing the alternatives and promoting collaboration among different stakeholders, public awareness and assist dialogue between government and the industry,” she said.

Fahad Waheed, Director of Fauji Cooking Oils and Banaspati, said Pakistanis consume 20kg per capita TFAs which was far bigger than the countries having no cardiovascular disease burden.

“VTF technology exists in Pakistan, and it is a trans-fat-free technology making TFA below 2 per cent, but much awareness is required in this regard,” he said.

Dr Afreenish Mir, microbiologist, and Project Director National Institute of Health, said that public health was the government’s top priority, but there were challenges in terms of regulations and implementation in the industrial practices.

Pakistan Medical and Dental Council Deputy Registrar Dr Salman said TFAs were responsible for serious health complications leading to cancer and other diseases.

“Pakistani lifestyle has been modified over time and TFAs-based products have taken place in our diet menus,” he said.

Dr Syed Tufail Hussain Shah, expert on iTFAs, said there was a need to revamp medical labs and scientific resources available to catch the TFAs tracking as per the developing trend in society.

SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said that the high levels of TFAs in processed and fried foods posed a significant health risk in Pakistan, contributing to heart diseases, stroke and other chronic illnesses.

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