Health advocates launch citizens’ watchdog to monitor compliance
QUEZON CITY – Health advocates on Monday celebrated the start of the effectivity of the ban on industrially-produced trans fatty acids or iTFA in pre-packaged and processed foods in the country.
Issued in 2021, Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order 2021-0039 and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Circular 2021-028 and 2021-028A gave food manufacturers until June 18, 2023 to reformulate and remove trans fatty acids or trans fat from their products or face sanctions. Today is the start of the ban.
Products that are traditionally high in iTFA include margarine, coffee creamer, and baked goods such as donuts and cookies, among others. High intake of trans fatty acids or trans fat is a known cause of heart problems and cardiovascular diseases.
“Today is a cause for celebration for Pinoy heart health,” said Dr. Luigi Segundo of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) during a press conference with fellow health advocates in Quezon City. “This ban on trans fats will help improve health outcomes for Filipinos and protect consumers from the dangers of trans fats,” he added. Cardiovascular diseases remain the top killer of Filipinos according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Group launches citizens watchdog, messenger hotline vs trans fats
In the same press conference, the group composed of lawyers, doctors, nutritionists, and consumers also launched Bantay Kontra Trans Fat as an initiative to foster compliance of food manufacturers and support DOH and FDA’s programs to eliminate trans fat.
“We have to remain vigilant, empower consumers, and foster compliance,” said Atty. Sophia San Luis of public interest group ImagineLaw. “We will conduct a nationwide literacy campaign in reading packages and labels of food products and educate consumers on the dangers of other sources of trans fats,” she added.
The group also launched the Trans Fat Free Philippines Facebook page as a messenger hotline for the public to access relevant information about trans fats and submit reports of possible non-compliance of food manufacturers to the DOH and FDA orders.