The UAE has been taking steps to enforce a total ban on the use of hydrogenated oil (trans fat) by 2023, a top government official said recently.
Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, told members of the Federal National Council (FNC) that the country has been speeding up the implementation of measures to prevent the manufacture and import of hydrogenated oil used by food industries.
The minister was responding to a question from FNC member Dherar Al Falasi, who asked what the government was doing to reduce the use of trans fat in food products, considering its adverse effect on health.
Consuming food laden with trans fat increases the level of bad cholesterol in one’s body. It may also lead to artery blockage, hypertension and diabetes, health experts have warned.
Hydrogenated vegetable oil is a common ingredient found in several processed food items, and many manufacturers prefer this oil because of its low cost and its ability to extend a product’s shelf life. Manufactured trans fats are usually found in cooking oil, crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, snacks, frozen pizza, margarine stick and other baked goods.
Al Falasi said that in 2018, the total number of Emiratis suffering from trans fat-related illnesses was 6,923, while non-Emiratis with similar conditions reached 4,285.
Nations in the GCC earlier signed an agreement to ban the use of trans fats, and the UAE minister said the country has started reducing the use of hydrogenated oil. By the end of this year, it’s expected to go down to five per cent, gradually reaching zero.
Al Mansoori said the government is eyeing to impose the full trans fat ban even before 2023, in coordination with other GCC member-countries.
“There is a set of measures which we have started to implement so as to reduce and prevent the use of trans fats or hydrogenated oils in food items produced in the country, following the issuance of the UAE technical regulations in 2019,” the minister said during the virtual FNC meeting.
So far, there has been full compliance among food manufacturing companies, he added.
Al Mansoori said they have also built a database of food manufacturers whose products contain certain portions of hydrogenated oil. These firms are being monitored to ensure that they meet the acceptable specifications before 2023.
Several countries around the world have already restricted the use of hydrogenated oil, however, it can still be found in some canned goods. The World Health Organisation argues that the removal of trans fat from the food supply would lead to substantial health benefits for a population.
Source: Khaleej Times