United Nations agency calls for all countries to rid foods of trans fat

Representative image

Representative image

A representative for The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 250 food, beverage and consumer product companies in Washington D.C. said they back the World Health Organization's plan and have reduced trans fat use by 98 percent. According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, Denmark's cardiovascular disease deaths declined dramatically three years after policy was enforced.

Due to its longer shelf life and other characteristics, hydrogenated oil is commonly added to baked goods, snacks, deep-fried fare and cold pastries, and dough, like frozen pizza and cinnamon rolls. What is new is the World Health Organization global initiative to tackle a non-communicable disease, said Frieden, presently the President and Chief Executive of Resolve to Save Lives (an initiative of non-profit organisation Vital Strategies), involved with implementing the World Health Organization campaign.

Willett, who was an early voice in the fight against trans fats, further explains that the low cost of a full transition to much healthier fats when taken into account the enormous payoff of the move should make the idea a no-brainer.

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Switzerland, Britain, Canada, and the U.S. have all already moved to ban trans fats.

But replacing saturated fats with partially hydrogenated oils was a bad idea.

Food manufacturers in America are expected by next month to have reworked their products so that the levels of trans fats contained in them are non-threatening.

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"Trans fats are a harmful compound that can be removed easily without major cost and without any impact on the quality of the foods", Branca said. In addition, there are indications that trans fat may increase inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. In 2003, a Danish law that limited the amounts of these fats in food was passed. The prompted all kinds of "Nanny Bloomberg" headlines referencing the mayor at the time.

The first trans fatty food to hit the US market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911.

Trans fats are still commonly sold in countries throughout South Asia and Africa, where weaker regulations and stronger pressure by food producers have kept partially hydrogenated oils in circulation. But the hope is that the guidelines will encourage governments to enact these bans. They are produced by using hydrogen as an additive to vegetable oil which causes liquid fats to become solid when kept at room temperature.

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It's possible that within five years, a unsafe substance that increases death rates won't be in use anymore.

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