Replace Trans Fats –Free by 2023

Replace Trans Fats –Free by 2023

Elimination of industrially produced trans fats from the food supply: a measure towards preventing cardiovascular diseases

Consumption of increased intake of trans fats (>1% of total energy intake) is strongly associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease and related mortality. Globally, excessive intake of trans fat is responsible for more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease every year. Some meat and dairy products contain small amounts of trans fat, but larger amount of trans fat in our food is contributed by industrial trans-fat/ industrially-produced trans-fatty acids (iTFA) and are also called as partially hydrogenated oils.

Industrial trans-fats are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable and fish oils to make them more solid, and to increase their shelf life. Trans fats are largely present in vanaspati ghee, margarine and bakery shortenings. They have replaced use of animal fats such as butter/desi ghee and are largely being used in baked and fried foods (doughnuts, cookies, crackers and pies), prepared or pre-packaged snacks and food, and cooking oils and spreads. They not only increase the shelf life of foods and oils by lowering their oxidation potential but also alter the texture. Partially hydrogenated cooking oils and fats are often used at home, in restaurants, or in the informal sector, such as street vendors.

Partially hydrogenated oils were more popular in 1950s-1970s as a replacement of animal fat (butter) with the discovery of negative health impacts of saturated fatty acids (found in foods from animal sources such as butter, milk, meat, salmon, and egg yolks, and some plant-derived products such as chocolate and cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils). However, by the late 20th century, evidence from various studies indicated the adverse health effects of trans fats and the relationship between TFA and coronary heart disease (CHD).   

How trans-fat harms our health?

Trans fat, particularly the manufactured variety found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, have no known health benefit.  It is recommended to keep intake of trans fat as low as possible.

Trans fat increases the risk for heart attacks, stroke and type 2 diabetes. There are two main types of cholesterol low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad," cholesterol can build up in the walls of arteries, making them hard and narrow and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good," cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to liver.

Trans fat has an unhealthy effect on cholesterol levels increasing LDL and decreasing HDL cholesterol. If the fatty deposits within arteries tear or rupture, a blood clot may form and block blood flow to a part of heart, causing a heart attack, or to a part of brain, causing a stroke.

What should we eat?

Fats are an important part of a healthy diet but according to World Health Organisation (WHO) total fat intake should not exceed 30% of a person's overall energy intake. Intake of saturated fat should be less than 10 percent of total daily energy intake and intake of trans-fats less than 1% of total energy intake.

Ensure that foods we eat are free of trans fats and safe for public health, because sometimes other ingredients substituted for trans fats may not be healthy and contain a lot of saturated fat. There should be a shift in quality of fat consumption away from saturated fats and trans-fats to unsaturated fats (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats) and towards the goal of eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats.

Some healthy options to eliminate trans fats-

  • Eat a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts and limit red meat, sugar and, salt intake
  • Use naturally occurring, unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil most often.
  • Use processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated fat.
  • Limit commercially prepared fried foods and baked foods.

REPLACE action package by WHO

In May 2018, World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a comprehensive plan to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat from the global food supply by 2023. REPLACE action package consisting six strategic actions provides a roadmap about how countries can remove and replace all trans-fat from their food supplies with the intention to eradicate it from the globe.

The six areas of action include:

Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans-fat and the landscape for required policy change.

Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans-fat with healthier fats and oils.

Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat.

Assess and monitor trans-fat content in the food supply and changes in trans-fat consumption in the population.

Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fat among policy-makers, producers, suppliers, and the public.

Enforce compliance with policies and regulations.

WHO has also called on all food producers and oil and fat manufacturers, not only International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) members, to commit to elimination of industrial trans-fat from the global food supply.

IFBA members have also ensured the WHO that the amount of industrial trans-fat (iTFA) in their products does not exceed 2 g of iTFA (industrial trans fatty acid) per 100 g fat/oil globally by 2023.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India is also working for the elimination of industrially produced trans-fat in the food supply in India by the year 2022, a year ahead of the global target by the World Health Organization (WHO) for complete elimination of trans fat.

Elimination of industrially-produced TFA is feasible and achievable.



  • PUBLISHED DATE : Nov 05, 2019
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Nov 05, 2019


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The content on this page has been supervised by the Nodal Officer, Project Director and Assistant Director (Medical) of Centre for Health Informatics. Relevant references are cited on each page.