Eliminating Trans Fat from the Global Food Supply

Artificial trans fat (TFA) is a harmful compound that increases the risk of heart attack and death. It is estimated to cause more than half a million deaths every year, globally.

Fortunately, TFA can be eliminated and replaced with healthier alternatives, providing substantial health benefits without altering taste or increasing cost. For example, Denmark reduced CVD deaths in men by 5.8% and 5.2% in women from 2004-2006, just three years after enacting a best practice policy removing TFA from packaged and processed foods.

For more details on our approach, technical guidance and advocacy tools visits LINKScommunity.org.

What we're doing

We partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop and launch REPLACE, an initiative to eliminate artificial trans fat from the global food supply by providing governments the tools to regulate trans fat and manufacturers the recipe to do so.

Since the REPLACE initiative was announced in 2018, an additional 2.4 billion people have gained protection through policies eliminating trans fat. At the end of 2021, 3.1 billion people lived in countries with best practice trans fat elimination policies, which comprises nearly 30% of the global population.

We also work with local, national and global governments to help scale up proven strategies to reduce and eliminate exposure to TFA and increase the availability of healthier alternatives. This can be done through mandatory labeling and restrictions.

We are funding efforts to assess people’s level of exposure to TFA and supporting public awareness campaigns to remove TFA from the global food supply. Our ultimate goal is to completely eliminate the use of TFA throughout the world.

Progress by region

NORTH AMERICA

In 2018, the U.S. and Canada implemented nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of TFA. In addition, each nation requires TFA to be labeled on packaged foods.

AFRICA

South Africa has instituted mandatory limits on TFA in foods, fats and oils since 2011.

ASIA

In January 2022, India became the first low- and middle-income country (LMIC) with a policy to reduce TFA to 2% in all fats, oils and foods. Thailand and Singapore have bans on partially hydrogenated oils and the Philippines and Bangladesh adopted 2% TFA limits in 2021 that are now in effect. In addition, India, Singapore, Philippines and the Republic of Korea now require TFA labeling on packaged foods.

THE MIDDLE EAST

The Islamic Republic of Iran has set mandatory TFA limits of 2% in cooking oils and 5% in fats and oils in other foods. Saudi Arabia banned partially hydrogenated oils in January 2020. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Standardization Organization adopted a ban on partially hydrogenated oils in July 2021 and recommended its implementation in all GCC-member states (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar). Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel, UAE, Qatar and Oman now require TFA labeling on packaged foods.

CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA

Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador have set TFA limits to 2% in fats and oils and 5% in foods), while Chile and Uruguay have 2% TFA limits that apply to all foods, fats and oils. Peru and Brazil have banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils since 2021. Paraguay will limit TFA to 2% in all fats, oils and foods by 2024.

EUROPE

Countries in the European Union, the United Kingdom and Turkey have a mandatory 2% TFA limit in all foods, fats and oils. Switzerland and Uzbekistan are mandating 2% TFA limits in fats and oils only. In 2018, a Eurasian Economic Union technical regulation required Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russian Federation, to limit TFA to 2% in fats and oils. Ukraine set a mandatory TFA limit of 2% in all foods, fats and oils, which will go into effect in 2023.

Resources

Implementing and Enforcing Trans Fat Elimination Policies: Case Studies

REPLACE Global Progress Reports

WHO Country TFA Policy Score Card

TFA Regulatory Drafting Tool

Trans Fat Fact Sheet

REPLACE Global Progress Report

REPLACE Technical Package

REPLACE: a Roadmap to Make the World Trans Fat Free by 2023 (The Lancet)

REPLACE: Frequently Asked Questions

Eliminating Trans Fat One-Page Fact Sheet

Eliminating Trans Fat Annotated Bibliography

Joint Letter to Companies to Eliminate Artificial Trans Fat

References

  1. Rubinstein, Adolfo, et al. "Eliminating artificial trans fatty acids in Argentina: estimated effects on the burden of coronary heart disease and costs." Bulletin of the World Health Organization 93 (2015): 614-622.

Subscribe to the Resolve to Save Lives Newsletter

Subscribe to stay up to date on the latest news and learnings from our Cardiovascular Health and Prevent Epidemics teams, and our President and CEO Dr. Tom Frieden.