THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fast-tracking its efforts to eliminate industrially produced trans fat from the food items sold in the state, the Commissionerate of Food Safety is giving final touches to an action plan. As per sources, it will be finalised within a week and handed over to the World Bank (WB), and World Health Organisation (WHO) for feedback. Meanwhile, to coordinate various activities being planned and for enforcement, the Commissionerate has also appointed an officer at the state level.
“At the national level, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is in the process of reducing the industrially produced trans-fatty acids to less than two per cent by 2022. The state is working towards achieving this target a year before,” said Rathan U Kelkar, Commissioner of Food Safety. According to him, the state has adopted a three-pronged strategy to combat the scourge of trans fat and that includes a random sampling of food items, creating awareness among stakeholders and enforcement.
“We had some meetings with the stakeholders like bakers, hotels and restaurant association and manufacturers of pickles. While they have assured us that they will reduce the trans fat, sugar and salt content in food items in a time-bound manner, they are yet to give us a timeline. We had asked them to come out with a timeline on when they could achieve it,” added Rathan.
At the same time, of the 134 samples collected by the Food Safety Department from Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts, it has been found that more than 75 per cent had trans fat which is beyond the permissible limit. In India, the current permitted level of trans fat is 5 per cent.
The other major study about trans fat is currently under way at the Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram. Here, the Department of Community Medicine is engaged in a sample collection drive, as part of a nation-wide study mooted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), for finding the content of trans fatty acids, salt and sugar in snack foods, baked foods and fried foods and the rate of morbidity due to the same.
“The study – Consumption Pattern of Food and Food Products High in Fat, Salt and Sugar – is part of ICMR’s plan to come out with new dietary guidelines for India. As part of the study, dietary details, status of noncommunicable diseases and lifestyle profile of persons will be collected. We got intimation it has been extended to December,” said Dr P S Indu, head of the Department of Community Medicine and principal investigator of the study.