- "All stakeholders including media, government departments and civil society organizations must establish cooperative mechanisms to jointly work for public health." - Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director of CPDI
- "Journalists must remain alert about the spread of diseases due to unhealthy diet consumption and help mobilize policy support for adopting best policy practice for iTFA regulations." - Ms. Mania Shakeel, participant journalist from Karachi
Islamabad: Experts at a training workshop for journalists on “Understanding TFAs, Policy, Human Health, and Reporting” have called for the government to adopt a single mandatory standard to set no more than 2% iTFA limits in all foods.
Trans fatty acids (TFAs) are industrially produced fats that are found in many processed foods, including vanaspati, shortenings, bakery fats, bakery ware, rusk, and breads. TFAs are a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Pakistan has the second highest TFA consumption in the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean region, at about 6% of daily energy intake. This is significantly higher than the WHO’s recommended limit of 1%.
The government of Pakistan has taken some steps to regulate TFAs, but experts say that more needs to be done. For example, the government has notified that the limit of TFAs cannot be more than 2g per 100g of fat in certain products, but this regulation does not cover all foods.
Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed, National Coordinator, Nutrition & NFA, Ministry of National Health Services, Islamabad, emphasized the importance of adopting a “all foods” regulation to eliminate industrially-produced TFAs. He said that the current item-by-item approach has gaps and does not allow for a comprehensive regulation on iTFAs contaminating the food supply.
Dr. Ghufran Saeed, Assistant Professor, Food Science and Technology Department, University of Karachi, shared findings of numerous research studies, which highlight that the consumption of industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) significantly contributes to the incidence of NCDs. He said that it is both urgent and important to make our food supply safe for consumption by removing the silent killer.
Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director of CPDI, emphasized the importance of more media attention to unprecedented health related challenges being faced by the people of Pakistan. He said that all stakeholders including media, government departments and civil society organizations must establish cooperative mechanisms to jointly work for public health, especially through mobilizing public support, adopting appropriate policies and regulations, and effective enforcement of food supply standards.
Ms. Mania Shakeel, a participant journalist from Karachi, said that journalists clearly understand the seriousness of iTFAs in the food and believe that journalists can influence attitudes on the one hand and policy on the other. She said that journalists must remain alert about the spread of diseases due to unhealthy diet consumption and help mobilize policy support for adopting best policy practice for iTFA regulations.