A chemical analysis of 564 food products sold in the local markets in the Philippines found that 17% of the products (brands) had high trans fatty acid (TFA) content posing health risk to consumers.
Michael Pelagio, a Science Research Specialist of the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) Chemical Laboratory, said that oils and fats such as sesame oil and mayonnaise, unsalted butter, all-purpose cream, and bread and pastry products such as cookies and doughnuts had TFA content of more than 2g per 100g serving.
The findings were shared during a recent seminar held by the Institute and Pelagio said that 564 samples of food products were analysed for the TFA content. Average results showed that fats and oils had the highest TFA content, followed by milk and dairy products. Meanwhile, all butter samples had high TFA content.
Pelagio said, “It is worth noting that more than half of the foods are ready to eat (RTE) and presumably contain the highest amounts of industrial produced trans fatty acids.”
He asserted that in 2021, the Department of Health (DOH) had issued Administrative Order 39 mandating the regulation of TFA content in packaged foods, and pushing for replacement strategies as well as increasing awareness of the adverse health impact of this on consumer’s health. The DOH order consequently led to the Food and Drug Administration to issue FDA Circular No. 2021-028 banning partially hydrogenated oil and foods with more than 2g of TFA per 100g fat content, as well as mandating the labeling of TFA content in pre-packaged foods.
A study conducted in 2006 showed that intake of more than 2.2g of TFA can increase the risk of contracting coronary heart disease. “And fast forward to today, CHD is still the leading cause of death as of the 1st quarter of 2022, according to the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority,” said Pelagio.
The alarming situation had spurred the World Health Organization to launch a global action plan dubbed Replace which aimed to eliminate industrially produced trans fats by 2023.