In August 2015 the FSSAI had amended the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 with regard to Interesterified vegetable fat (2.2.2) Margarine and fat Spreads (2.2.5) Hydrogenated vegetable oils (2.2.6). Since the amendment had been published in the Official Gazette, Food Business Operators had to comply with the maximum limit of trans fat content of not more than 5% in Interesterified vegetable fat, margarine and fats spreads and hydrogenated vegetable oils by 27 August 2016.
Through a fresh notification dated 10 August 2016 the FSSAI has extended the date for compliance of 5% trans fatty acids in food products. FBOs will now get a respite of another six months for compliance of maximum limit of trans fatty acids in food products as the date has been extended to 27 February 2017. FSSAI has extended the date as it received a number of representations from FBOs for extension of time period so that they could use their existing inventory of packaging material. The 5% limit of trans fatty acids in food products will now be implemented from 27. 2. 2017 onwards.
Why trans fatty acids need to be reduced
The FSSAI has made amendments reduce the contentof trans fatty acids in food products as trans fatty acids are considered to be detrimental to health and are said to give rise to heart problems and diabetes. In India the main sources of trans fat are vanaspati, ghee, butter and margarine. Vanaspati is used by most FBOs because it is economical and also extends the shelf life of products and enhances taste and flavour. Since a number of Indian snack packaged foods as well as other foods are fried in vanaspati they add to the overall trans fat content of foods.
The WHO guidelines say that the intake of trans fatty acids must be reduced as they increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. According to some studies it seems that increase in caloric intake of trans fat by even 2% can lead to a huge risk of heart disease. While the WHO has recommended an upper limit of 1% the FSSAI has reduced the trans fatty content from maximum 10% to 5% in all food products.
Trans fat from reused oil
Studies have also pointed out that repeated heating of oil for frying leads to an increase in trans fat content. It is for this reason that the FSSAI has clearly stated that oil must not be used more than 2 to 3 times for frying foods. Even those oils that do not contain trans fat when heated to 180 º show an increase in trans fatty acid content. The formation of trans fat is related to temperature and duration of heating. It seems that if the oil is continuously heated for two hours it should not be reused for frying even if it is the first time oil is used for frying. The maximum limit of 5% of trans fatty acid that FBOs will need to comply with is based on the total trans fat content in the finished food products.