World Health Organization plans to eliminate trans-fat from food by 2023

French fries are some of the products containing more trans-fat levels

The World Health Organization released a plan Monday that aims to eliminate trans-fatty acids from the world's food supply within the next five years. The determination from the FDA said that removing the trans fats "could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year". Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats.

Artificial trans fat or trans-fatty acids are produced in a process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. The WHO announced a new plan to phase out trans fats from the food supply.

Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food. They do not spoil as quickly as other fats, but they can have some harmful health effects.

Former New York mayor and creator of the city's trans fat ban Michael Bloomberg likened the REPLACE plan to the highly-effective anti-tobacco campaigns that ran in the latter half of the 20th century.

A study performed in New York City in 2016, showed that a ban on trans fats there affected a 5% reduction in deaths for cardiovascular reasons and provided savings of $3.9 million for every 100,000 citizens of the city. Seemingly though, medical experts are of the view that healthier product substitutes that will not affect the food tastes or costs can be effectively utilized in their place.

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Dr. Walter C. Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said he thought the W.H.O. initiative would likely lead to the extinction of trans fats in the near future. "But in the last three or four years, most big food companies have stopped using trans fats", she said.

REPLACE urges countries to assess and monitor trans fats consumption, establish laws to stamp out trans fats and raises awareness of their risk.

Defining "elimination", Frieden said, it meant bringing down the level of TFA in food to two per cent. Countries like Denmark did this way back in 2003 and found that even cardio vascular deaths declined.

"It is important to remember that, even with the actions by FDA and announcement by World Health Organization, there will always be naturally occurring trans fat in the diets that include meat and dairy products such as milk, butter and yogurt", the Grocery Manufacturer Association said. This is because they're used in partially-hydrogenated oils, which were first used as a butter replacement and then later as a replacement for foods containing saturated fatty acids. Diets high in trans fats increase heart disease risk by 21% and deaths by 28%.

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