World Health Organization plans to eliminate trans fats from food by 2023

World Health Organization plans to eliminate trans fats from food by 2023

Industrially-produced trans-fat are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods.

In Denmark, the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans fats, the trans fat content of food products declined dramatically and cardiovascular disease deaths declined more quickly than in comparable OECD countries.

In 2015, the FDA called for the elimination of trans fats by June 18, 2018.

"It's a crisis level, and it's major front in our fight now", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

Officials think it can be done in five years because the work is well underway in many countries.

The fats are generally considered by doctors to be bad for your heart, according to the Mayo Clinic. Denmark did it 15 years ago, and since then the United States and more than 40 other higher-income countries have been working on getting the additives out of their food supplies.

According to the World Health Organization experts, there are two main sources for trans fats: natural sources (in dairy products and meat of ruminants such as cows and sheep) and industrially-produced sources (partially hydrogenated oils). Many dairy and meat products contain trans fats that have also been linked to heart disease.

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Countries will likely have to use regulation or legislation to get food makers to make the switch, experts said.

In the USA, the first trans fatty food to hit the market was Crisco shortening, which went on sale in 1911.

A representative for The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 250 food, beverage and consumer product companies in Washington D.C. said they back the World Health Organization's plan and have reduced trans fat use by 98 percent. They became popular in the 1950s through 1970s with the discovery of the negative health impacts of saturated fatty acids.

Trans fats increase the levels of LDL-cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk, and decreases levels of HDL-cholesterol, which carry away cholesterol from arteries and transport it to the liver, that secretes it into the bile. They used them in such fare as doughnuts, cookies and deep-fried foods. The WHO announced a new plan to phase out trans fats from the food supply.

Former New York mayor and creator of the city's trans fat ban Michael Bloomberg likened the REPLACE plan to the highly-effective anti-tobacco campaigns that ran in the latter half of the 20th century.

Mike Stobbe is an Associated Press writer.

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