From 2022, trans fats in packaged foods must be less than 2 per cent

Mumbai: Muscling up in its fight against trans fats by limiting its usage in packaged food products, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a circular stating that from January 1, 2022, the amount of trans fats in food products shall not exceed two per cent.

An FSSAI official said, earlier this was a voluntary provision, but now it will be mandatory for food business operators (FBOs). “To reach the target of Trans-fat Free India by 2022, regulations to reduce trans fats to less than two per cent in all oils and fats in food products are being put in place,” said Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI.

The circular states, “Food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain trans fatty acids more than two per cent by weight of the total oils/fats present in the product, from January 1, 2022.”

Recently, the regulator also launched a logo for its trans-fat-free programme. It will help FBOs make claims about the same, while also helping consumers make informed choices.

For the last two years, FSSAI has been engaged in intense campaigning, particularly against industrially-produced trans-fats. According to health experts, trans fats are considered the worst type of fats.

A diet laden with trans fats increases the risk of heart disease and decreases good cholesterol in hydrogenated oils. “The manufactured form of trans fat, known as partially hydrogenated oil, is found in a variety of food products, including baked goods, snacks, fried foods, creamers, and margarine,” said an expert.

As per the new directive, food manufacturers will have to substitute these fats with better options such as olive, peanut and canola oils. Nuts, fish and other foods containing unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are other good food choices, as they are rich in healthy fats.

“India has become aware of health issues pertaining to trans fats. Increasingly, food companies are considering lower limits of trans fats.

Also, with strict regulation by the FSSAI, the FBOs have been encouraged to explore new, healthier options. They will have to replace these unsaturated fats to create space for a healthier market,” said Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs, Mumbai.

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