Trans fat in oils

Oil is essential for our body to function. But that does not mean that we should take for granted the cooking mediums we use in our food. As the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) laboratory report recently discovered our branded edible oils are full of unhealthy trans fats. The results showed trans fats in seven leading vanaspati brands were five to 12 times the 2 per cent standard set by Denmark. Trans fats are formed during the process of addition of hydrogen atoms to oils, a process industry prefers as it keeps the oil from turning rancid and ensures a longer shelf life.

Trans fats are associated with a host of serious health problems ranging from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. This should be reason enough to regulate these susbstances. Apparently not for our government which has for the past six years been only considering the issue of trans-fatty acid in vanaspati. Bucking under pressure from the edible oil lobby, the health ministry in 2008 came out with a notification for labelling food including trans fats but without a standard. This amounts to nothing.

CSE is working with various government agencies such as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and Bureau of Indian Standards to ensure stringent standards for trans fats.