Resolve to Save Lives

Steps taken to eliminate TFA in Pakistan

15th June 2020

Industrially-produced TFA is a component found in many foods that significantly increases heart disease risk. It is responsible for over 500,000 premature deaths worldwide every year. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for its global elimination from the food system by 2023.

Heartfile, an NGO based in Islamabad, has been working on TFA elimination in Pakistan since 2018. Pakistan’s TFA intake is estimated to be the 2nd highest in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region (after Egypt). The main dietary sources of TFA include vanaspati (vegetable) ghee, margarines, bakery shortenings and cooking oil, mostly produced domestically and used widely by the food industry and in home cooking and baking.

Pakistan has taken some initiatives toward eliminating TFA by introducting a national TFA limit for vanaspati ghee and a provincial TFA limit for certain foods in Punjab. However, they do not conform with WHO recommendations (max. 2g TFA per 100g fat/oil for all food products).

Pakistan’s trans fat consumption is estimated to be the 2nd highest in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region. Some provinces have regulations to eliminate this deadly fat, but national legislation is a high priority to protect the entire population.

Key steps to achieve TFA elimination in Pakistan include, amongst others, the adoption of a national mandatory standard in line with WHO recommendations together with a clear definition of federal and provincial food regulatory responsibilities and effective enforcement mechanisms.

The development of the situational analysis and the JPMA publication were funded by an NCD Alliance grant. NCD Alliance's work to help scale up proven strategies in the WHO's REPLACE package to reduce and eliminate exposure to TFA and increase availability of healthier alternatives is funded through a grant from Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative by Vital Strategies.