Kerala to rein in trans-fat in eatery foods

The Health Department and the Food Safety wing are joining hands to launch an initiative to enforce dietary guidelines, involving the reduction of Trans fatty acids (TFAs), salt and sugar in commercially available foods in the State.

The initiative, with technical support from the World Bank, WHO and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), is being launched as unhealthy diet is pushing up metabolic syndrome and premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among Keralites.

The initiative, with technical support from the World Bank, WHO and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), is being launched as unhealthy diet is pushing up metabolic syndrome and premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among Keralites.

Latest estimates put the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MS) in Kerala between 24-33%, indicating that one in three or four persons — predominantly women — have this condition.

Metabolic syndrome (MS) is a cluster of metabolic abnormalities — high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abdominal obesity, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, raising the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent. These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.

Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.

In our diet, the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.

Harmful effects:

TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease. Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.

TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.

WHO recommends that trans fat intake is limited to less than 1% of total energy intake and has called for the total elimination of TFAs in global food supply by 2023. FSSAI has proposed to limit TFA limit in foods to 2% and eliminate trans fats from foods by 2022.

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FSSAI notifies standards for honey & its products to curb adulteration

The regulator FSSAI has come out with food safety standards for honey and its products, in a bid to curb adulteration.

The move comes in the wake of government promoting farmers to venture into the beekeeping business to increase their income. The standards will help fetch farmers better prices for their products.

At present, there are no separate quality standards for honey and its products. The move comes in the wake of government promoting farmers to venture into the beekeeping business to increase their income. The standards will help fetch farmers better prices for their products.

As per the FSSAI notification, honey should comply with 18 parameters like that of sucrose content, glucose ratio, pollen count, foreign oligosaccharides among others.

The FSSAI has fixed maximum 5% limit for sucrose content in the honey, while 10% for carviacallosa and Honeydew honey. The moisture percentage should be maximum 20% and pollen count should be 25,000 per gram. With regard to by-products, the FSSAI has fixed standards for ‘Beeswax’ and ‘royal jelly’ also.

The regulator has defined honey as the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of blossoms or from secretions of plants, which honey bees collect, transform and store in honeycombs for ripening.

If a product is sold as honey then food ingredient, including food additives should not be added to it. It should not be heated or processed to such an extent that its essential composition is changed and its quality is impaired.

Honey can be labeled according to floral or plant source, if it comes from any particular source, and has the organoleptic, physicochemical and microscopic properties corresponding with that origin.

In the case of ‘Monofloral Honey’, the regulator said the minimum pollen content of the plant species concerned should not be less than 45 percent of total pollen content. In the case of ‘Multi Floral Honey’, the pollen content of any of the plant species should not exceed 45 percent of the total pollen content.

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