The World Health Organization released a plan Monday that aims to eliminate trans-fatty acids from the world’s food supply within the next five years.
The REPLACE plan has six strategic actions. The RE stands for reviewing dietary sources of trans fatty acids; the P for promoting replacements; L for legislating actions; A for assessing trans fats content; C for creating awareness and E for enforcing compliance.
“Implementing the six strategic actions in the REPLACE package will help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease,” WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
Trans fats are found in products manufacturers want to give a longer shelf life. They are also in fried foods since oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers, the American Heart Association said.
The WHO estimates trans fats lead to more than 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease every year.
Artificial trans fat or trans-fatty acids are produced in a process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. They raise bad (LDL) cholesterol level and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels, which increases risk of heart disease and stroke. They are also associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
Several countries have already imposed limits on trans fats in packaged foods, with Denmark showing a decrease in cardiovascular deaths, the WHO said.
“New York City eliminated industrially-produced trans fat a decade ago, following Denmark’s lead,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, president of Resolve to Save Lives. “Trans fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there’s no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed.”
In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration said partially hydrogenated oil — the main source of industrially-produced trans fats — was no longer “recognized as safe,”, as it contributes to plaque buildup in arteries. The agency gave the industry three years to phase out PHOs.
“It is important to remember that, even with the actions by FDA and announcement by WHO, there will always be naturally occurring trans fat in the diets that include meat and dairy products such as milk, butter and yogurt,” the Grocery Manufacturer Association said.
By Sommer Brokaw