Plans to ban artificial trans fat on the way: Taiwan FDA

Photo: AFP

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Artificial trans fats will possibly see their end on Taiwanese shelves, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday announced plans to ban the unsafe substance nationwide, a move that is backed up by 43 per cent of people surveyed.

Director-General of the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Chiou Shu-ti stated on Sunday that "artificial trans fat is more poisonous than fake oil."

According to the HPA's statistics, 43 per cent of people are in favour of a complete ban on artificial trans fats. The survey was conducted this February and March.

Two-thirds of consumers are also unaware that the government has made it mandatory to include the amount of trans fat on food packaging, according to HPA research and over half of the surveyed reported never seeing trans fat labeling at all.

Only 20 per cent of people surveyed were satisfied with the government's current education and promotion of trans-fat awareness, while at least 80 per cent hope they will be able to find stores that refuse to use or stock trans-fat products.

Luckily, the percentage of those who have never heard of trans fat have dropped from 63.7 per cent to 32.8 per cent, and half of the surveyed report checking labels before buying a food product.

"The current trend worldwide is implementing a full ban on artificial trans fat," Pan Chih-kuan, director of the FDA's Food Safety Division said.

"Taiwan is also on the same road, but details are still in the planning stages."

Research has proved that even consuming a low amount of the unhealthy substance daily, around four to five grams, could cause a surge of bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels in one's bloodstream, and decreasing good cholesterol levels, said Chiou. T

his will in turn cause clogged and inflamed arteries, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by at least 23 per cent.

Other studies point a correlation between artificial trans fat and infertility, dementia, breast cancer and diabetes.

Chiou pointed out that attempting to distinguish natural and artificial trans fat by eyesight or smell is difficult, especially with "unpackaged foods" such as in fried snacks and cakes.

"This means that it is impossible to protect consumers from artificial trans fat if we solely rely on food labeling," said Chiou.

The World Health Organisation aims to see a complete ban of trans fat worldwide by 2025. The US has also announced its prohibition of trans fat in food products in June, with a three-year grace period for food production companies.