The NCD Alliance in collaboration with Resolve to Save Lives presented a high-level virtual international webinar on 17 November 2020. The topic under discussion was strategies to eliminate industrially-produced trans fatty acids (iTFA) from the global food supply. The event was moderated by Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. The webinar focussed on regional approaches and commercial entities in the food supply chain that have not yet been reached by regulation or voluntary commitments.
The participants included national authorities and members of civil society, where India was represented by the FSSAI chairperson Ms Rita Teaotia. The webinar also featured Dr Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, Dr Sabine Jülicher, Director for Food and Feed Safety, Innovation at the European Union’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), Dr Eunice Pang, Deputy Director at the Health Promotion Board of Singapore; Laurène Aubert, Manager at SUN Business Network; and Ana Larrañaga, Director General of Salud Crítica (Mexico).
The speakers spoke on the progress to date in iTFA elimination and what gaps and challenges still remain to achieve WHO’s goal of an iTFA-free world by 2023. According to NCD Alliance, one of the most straight-forward nutrition policies is the elimination of industrially-produced TFA from the global food supply. If all countries removed this harmful compound which causes heart disease, 17 million lives could be saved by 2040. Over 30 countries have already implemented statutory limits or bans to eliminate iTFA from foods and or fats/oils, demonstrating that that the replacement of iTFA is possible.
Chairperson FSSAI stressed upon the significance of Trans-fat elimination especially in the present scenario of COVID-19. COVID-19 is deeply linked to NCDs such as heart disease. One in five people worldwide are at increased risk should they contract COVID-19, if they also suffer due to NCDs. Miss Teaotia also informed the participants about the regulatory steps taken by FSSAI in moving towards Trans-fat free India by 2022, a year ahead of WHO’s target. The Chairperson also highlighted the consumer focussed initiatives such as ‘Heart Attack Rewind’ in creating awareness regarding the harmful effects of Trans-fat.
NCD Alliance is of the view that in the last few years, regional approaches to iTFA elimination are on the rise. An increasing number of countries are adopting best-practice policies (ban on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of iTFA, and/or a limit of 2g iTFA per 100g fats/oils in all foods). However, middle income countries are falling behind as here small and medium-sized enterprises dominate national markets. There is a need to be provide such enterprises with information and technical support to enable them to phase out iTFA from their products.
About Resolve to Save Lives and NCD Alliance
Resolve to Save Lives is an initiative of the global public health organisation Vital Strategies. The organisation helps governments and civil society implement scalable, proven strategies. They work to prevent heart disease and stroke, the world’s leading cause of death. Resolve aims to save 100 million lives from early and easily preventable death through proven, cost-effective interventions.
NCD Alliance was founded by four international NGO federations representing the four main NCDs (non-communicable diseases) – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease. The mission of NCD Alliance is to unite and strengthen civil society to stimulate collaborative advocacy, action and accountability for NCD prevention and control.