The World Health Organization released a plan Monday that aims to eliminate trans-fatty acids from the world's food supply within the next five years. He further stated that implementing the six strategies in the REPLACE plan will help in eliminating the prevalence of trans-fat, thereby signifying a pivotal victory for WHO's initiative to combat cardiovascular ailments. Manufacturers use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. Health advocates say trans fats are the most harmful fat in the food supply.
Popularized in the 1950s, and once lionized as a healthy alternative to the saturated fats found in butter and lard, trans fats have been implicated in sudden heart attacks and strokes, but they are also associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes and even infertility in women. World Health Organization estimates that eating trans fats - commonly found in baked and processed foods - leads to the deaths of more than 500,000 people from heart disease every year. In June, all products sold in the United States must be free of industrially produced trans-fats.
Dr. Walter C. Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said he thought the W.H.O. initiative would likely lead to the extinction of trans fats in the near future. Each year, more than 500,000 people die due to cardiovascular disease, that is attributed to intake of trans fats. "But in the last three or four years, most big food companies have stopped using trans fats", she said.
The World Health Organization announced on Monday that it is mounting a campaign to have unsafe man-made trans fats disqualified from use in all food products.
"Trans fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there's no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed" to it, Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Los Angeles Times.
The guidelines, he said, will ensure the prompt, complete and sustained elimination of industrially produced trans fats from the food supply and will include recommended legislation; monitoring of trans fats content in the food supply and changes in their consumption by the population; information campaigns to inform the public and policymakers about the negative health impact of trans fats.
Trans-fatty acids can also occur naturally in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, goats, etc). Partially hydrogenated oils are primarily used for deep frying and as an ingredient in baked goods; they can be replaced in both.