'Trans fat is a man-made crisis. We have to stop it. BSTI will observe the matter and review the act and rules if required'
In a response to consumer demand, the industries minister has said Bangladesh Standard Testing Institute (BSTI) and industries ministry will take the necessary measures to reduce the use of trans fat – that causes coronary heart diseases – in food to 2%.
“Trans fat is a man-made crisis. We have to stop it. BSTI will observe the matter and review the act and rules if required,” Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun stated at a discussion meeting held at Cirdap auditorium in Dhaka yesterday.
The National Heart Foundation, Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh (CAB) and Progga (Knowledge for Progress) jointly organized the discussion titled– “Trans Fat in Food, Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and a Way Forward: A Consumers Perspective.”
World Health Organization (WHO) set the limit to a maximum of 2% for using trans fat in food items and also designed a guideline to achieve the goal worldwide within 2023.
“We have to look after the interest of businessmen. We need employment. However, we cannot provide harmful food to consumers,” the industries minister said.
Muazzem Hossain, director general of BSTI, said: “We will start working on setting a standard for trans fat in foods. We will place the matter before the committees that formulate standards. We hope we will be able to set it within a short period.
“We also test products regularly after setting standards,” he said.
Earlier in the program, organizers handed over a list of consumers’ demand to the industries minister including the reduction of trans fat, ban of dalda, and regular market monitoring.
When hydrogen is added to different types of vegetable oil (palm, soybean, etc), they become condensed to a semi-solid form and produce trans fat along the way. This partially hydrogenated oil is popularly known as Dalda or Banaspati Ghee in our country.
Moreover, deep-frying food items using the same oil repeatedly in high temperature produces trans fat.
So far, 30 countries achieved the goal to reduce trans fat in food to 2%, while another 24 countries gave a commitment to this end.
Trans fat increases cholesterol in the blood and is responsible for coronary heart diseases, a major cause of premature death in the country.
Manjur Morshed, member of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) said: “We decided in principle to reduce trans fat in food to 2%. We formed a committee in this regard. Very soon we will receive recommendations from the committee.”
Presided by CAB President Golam Rahman, National Professor Brig (retd) Abdul Malik, high officials from Bangladesh National Food Safety Authority, officials from the directorate general of health services, and BSTI were also present at the meeting.