Stakeholders call for comprehensive regulation of trans-fatty acids in foods

Transform Pakistan campaign

Islamabad, May 20, 2024 : The Transform Pakistan campaign managed by civil society organizations, Pakistan Youth Change Advocates (PYCA), Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), Heartfile, UNICEF, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and many others urged Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) to take decisive steps towards regulating industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) to less than 2 per cent in all type of foods in Pakistan, without any further delay.

Currently, Pakistan is categorized as partially meeting the criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding trans-fat regulation and is placed in the less restrictive category. While significant progress has been made with the inclusion of banaspati ghee, bakery shortenings, biscuits, rusk and breads, and bakery items under regulation in 2023, Pakistan still falls short of WHO recommended best practices policy. To fully meet these standards for best practice policy, it is imperative that all foods should be covered through a single regulation, with mandatory limits of no more than 2 percent of iTFAs of the total fats.

Areebah Shahid, Executive Director at PYCA, emphasized the importance of this comprehensive approach, stating, “The health of our nation is at stake, and it is imperative that we take decisive action to protect the well-being of our citizens. By regulating trans-fatty acids in all foods, we can significantly reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases and improve public health outcomes.”

Mukhtar Ahmed, Executive Director of CPDI, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the need for government intervention, “Regulating trans-fatty acids is a public health imperative. It is the responsibility of the government to prioritize the health of its citizens by ensuring that all foods meet established safety standards.”

Dr. Saba Amjad, CEO of Heartfile, emphasized the urgency of the matter, stating, “Trans-fatty acids pose a serious risk to cardiovascular health and contribute to a range of non-communicable diseases. By implementing comprehensive regulations, we can protect the health of future generations and create a healthier Pakistan.”

The campaign, while appreciating the current progress, urged PSQCA to ensure that all foods items are brought under a single regulation without any further delay. Every single passing day means more people are prone to diseases and more deaths. In order to ensure that the people of Pakistan are safe from the hazards of iTFAs, potential delays must be prevented in adopting the best practice policy.

The TRANSFORM Pakistan campaign has been calling upon the government to ensure compliance with WHO best practices policy by setting iTFA limits of no more than 2 percent of total fats in all foods. By doing so, Pakistan can take a significant stride towards improving public health and creating a healthier future for all its citizens.

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