Food regulator FSSAI on Wednesday said that only 3.14 per cent or 196 of 6,245 samples of packaged food items contained trans-fat exceeding 2 per cent.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has mandated to reduce the limit of industrially produced trans-fats, to not more than 2 per cent to make the country free from the industrially-produced trans-fats by 2022, a year-ahead of the WHO guidelines, the regulator said in a statement.
To assess the market situation, the regulator said that it has carried out a baseline survey for presence of industrially produced trans-fatty acid content in the selected food categories. The survey was in partnership with Quality Council of India (QCI).
Samples of various packaged food items under six pre-defined food categories were collected from 419 cities/districts across 34 States/Union Territories.
As many as 1,051 samples were collected in category 1 - sweets, toppings and chocolates; category 2 - fried foods 1,061 samples; category 3 - bakery and confectionery products 1,072 samples; category 4 - frozen foods 973 samples; category 5- composite foods 1,019 samples; and category 6 - oils, vanaspati, shortenings and margarine 1,069 samples.
"In all, 6,245 samples of packaged products were collected on a random basis to ensure diversity and sampling of local packaged foods from different strata of food market," the statement said.
The trans-fat content was determined based on the sum of trans fatty acid (TFA) isomers, i.e. Elaidate and Linoelaidioate, and calculated in terms of fat content in the processed food samples in selected NABL accredited testing laboratories.
"The results revealed that only 3.14 per cent (196 samples) contained trans-fat exceeding 2 per cent," it added.
About 90 per cent (176 samples) of the 196 samples that exceeded 2 per cent trans-fat belonged to the category 6 (oils, vanaspati, shortenings and margarine).
The analysis of 5176 samples collected from the other five categories of food products (Category 1-5 ) revealed that nearly 0.4 per cent (20 samples) contained more than 2 per cent trans-fat.
In category 6, comprising of oils, vanaspati, shortenings and margarines, 100 samples out of a total of 1,069 food products analysed had trans-fat content of more than 2 per cent and less than 3 per cent, while 76 samples contained more than 3 per cent trans-fat.
"The findings of the survey revealed that the food processing industry is positive about FSSAI's regulation for eliminating the industrially produced trans-fats in foods by 2022," the statement said.
FSSAI said that the survey results "demolish the perception of excessive usage of industrial trans-fat in processed food products." This study has shown that India is well set to achieve its mandate of eliminating industrially produced transfats by 2022, it added.
The regulator said that the compliance with the mandatory national limits on industrially produced trans-fats has to be effectively enforced to eliminate them from the food chain.
Industrially produced trans-fatty acids are develop by addition of hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in order to convert them into semi-solid or solid state, and also to increase the shelf life of such oils.
Industrially produced trans-fats are largely present in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats/oils, vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings, and can also be found in refined oils, baked products, fried foods and composite foods.
FSSAI mentioned that trans-fat regulation to limit the amount of industrially produced trans- fats containing trans-fatty acids in food products has been enacted by many countries.
"It is accepted that trans-fat in the diet is a contributing factor for several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Trans-fat raises bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels in a human body which in turn, increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
"As per WHO, increased intake of trans-fat ( >1 per cent of total energy intake) is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease mortality and events. Trans-fat intake is responsible for approximately 500,000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year around the world," the statement said.