Chandigarh, 30 September, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)
“Punjab is committed to eliminating trans-fats from food,” said Sh Hussan Lal, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab.
He said this during a virtual meeting organized by PGIMER Chandigarh and Strategic Institute for Public Health Education and Research (SIPHER) for sensitization and planning of trans-fat elimination from food products in the state of Punjab.
Dr.Sonu Goel, Dept. of Community Medicine & School of Public Health, PGIMER Chandigarh; Dr. Om Prakash Bera, Country Coordinator, GHAI; Dr. Rakesh Gupta, President and Director of Public Health, SIPHER; Dr. Geeta Mehra, Asst. Professor and Head, Department of Food Science, MCM DAV College for Women, Chandigarh; and Dr. Poonam Khanna, Associate Professor, Nutrition, PGIMER Chandigarh, also attended this policy-and-enforcement planning meeting.
Talking about the implementation of limiting the content of trans-fats from 5% to 2% in little over one year, he said, “Food and Drug Administration will strictly implement the provisions under Food Safety Standards Act (FSSA) at the earliest”.
He further added, “When the Food Safety Act came into force, Punjab was the first state to appoint a Food Safety Commissioner as per the provision of the Act. It was later re-designated as the Commissioner Food and Drug Administration (CFDA).
With the passage of time the Food Safety Act did progress as many stringent provisions were added. Now, the Food Business Operators (FBOs) understand the implications of products not being of standard quality and misbranded; however, this was missing before the act came into being.
The Government of Punjab made sure to educate FBOs regarding the provisions of the act, put in place the system of online registration of food vendors, and also upgraded the labs,” he added. He further lauded PGIMER and SIPHER for their technical support to generate awareness on trans-fats across the state.
“There is an essential need to initiate statutory sampling in the state of Punjab to ensure max 5 % content of Trans-fatty Acids (TFA) in Vanaspati and bakery shortenings, PGIMER team will facilitate in the mapping of products which have been produced and available in retail. District level approach by team Department of community medicine and School of Public Health in trans-fat sensitization and research activities said Dr.Sonu Goel.
“We propose for implementation of legislation that would restrict the use of trans-fat strictly up to 5% in all districts of Punjab and efforts towards bringing it down to 2% to meet the global targets. Promotion of “Repurpose Use of Cooking Oil” (RUCO) initiative of FSSAI at the district level and ensure restrictions on the re-use of oil,” said Dr. Om Prakash Bera, Country Coordinator, GHAI.
“Trans-fat causes cardiovascular diseases and a risk factor for many Non-communicable diseases, Trans-fat intake leads to over 500,000 (around half- a million) deaths globally and it accounts for 60,000 preventable deaths in India.
PGIMER, Chandigarh in coordination with the Strategic Institute for Public Health Education and Research (SIPHER) has taken this initiative to support the Punjab Government for enforcement activities such as advocacy, capacity building workshops, and research,” said Dr. Rakesh Gupta, President and Director of Public Health, SIPHER.
Speaking on Health Complications due to the consumption of trans-fats, Dr. Geeta Mehra pressed for checking the nutrition value of different food products. She highlighted that high consumption of trans-fats could lead to Alzheimer, Obesity, and Colon Cancer, etc. “PGIMER has taken various initiatives to add value to the research and sensitization on trans-fats.
We are planning to expand our research to district-levels too,” said Dr. Poonam Khanna. During the meeting, it was also decided to kick-start a campaign for Trans fats-free sweets for this Diwali. The campaign was finalized after keeping in mind the fact that Punjab is one of the highest trans-fats consuming states in the country.