Stakeholders call for comprehensive regulation of trans-fatty acids in foods.

The Transform Pakistan campaign, a collective effort by civil society organisations, including Pakistan Youth Change Advocates (PYCA), Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), Heartfile, UNICEF, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), and many others, strongly urges Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) to take decisive steps towards regulating industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) to less than 2 per cent in all types of foods in Pakistan, without any further delay.
Pakistan is categorised as partially meeting the criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding trans-fat regulation and is placed in the less restrictive category. While significant progress has been made with including banaspati ghee, bakery shortenings, biscuits, rusk and breads, and bakery items under regulation in 2023, Pakistan still falls short of WHO recommended best practices policy. To fully meet these standards for best practice policy, all foods must be covered through a single regulation, with mandatory limits of no more than 2 per cent of its of the total fats.

Areebah Shahid, Executive Director at PYCA, emphasised the importance of this comprehensive approach, stating, “The health of our nation is at stake, and we must take decisive action to protect the well-being of our citizens. By regulating trans-fatty acids in all foods, we can significantly reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases and improve public health outcomes.”
Mukhtar Ahmed, Executive Director of CPDI, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the need for government intervention, “Regulating trans-fatty acids is a public health imperative. It is the responsibility of the government to prioritise the health of its citizens by ensuring that all foods meet established safety standards.”

Dr. Saba Amjad, CEO of Heartfile, emphasized the urgency of the matter, stating, “Trans-fatty acids pose a serious risk to cardiovascular health and contribute to a range of non-communicable diseases. By implementing comprehensive regulations, we can protect the health of future generations and create a healthier Pakistan.”

The campaign, while acknowledging the current progress, urgently calls upon PSQCA to ensure that all food items are brought under a single regulation without delay. Each day that passes without action increases the risk to people’s health and lives. To safeguard the people of Pakistan from the dangers of iTFAs, we must prevent any potential delays in adopting the best practice policy.
The TRANSFORM Pakistan campaign has been calling upon the government to ensure compliance with WHO best practices policy by setting iTFA limits of no more than 2 per cent of total fats in all foods. By doing so, Pakistan can take a significant stride towards improving public health and creating a healthier future for all its citizens.

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