The World Health Organization has announced a sweeping plan that urges governments around the globe to eliminate the use of trans fats. In Thailand the Public Health Ministry is poised to ban the production, import and distribution of food containing trans fat with an order issued on June 13th to become effective 180 days after its publication in the Royal Gazette.
Artificial trans fats, better known to many consumers as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, have contributed to a half million deaths a year, many of those in developing countries ill-equipped to address the health threats posed by a product cherished for its low price and long shelf life. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Denmark’s trans fat ban implemented in 2004— found that the bans do work. After a decade, Denmark showed remarkable improvement: Cardiovascular disease mortality rates plummeted. Austria, Iceland and Switzerland have implemented Dane-like laws between 2009 and 2011. Trans fats can be naturally occurring, and found in animal products like dairy and meat, or they can be artificially manufactured and tend to turn up in hydrogenated oil (which is most fried food). The latter makes up the bulk of the trans fats that humans consume, and that worries experts. Scientists say that trans fats are linked to the highest rates of death from all causes, deaths from heart disease and heart problems. The trans fat risk surpassed even that associated with saturated fat, which is found in formerly taboo-for-the-heart foods like butter, eggs and red meat.” Prohibition of trans fats would push oil producers, food manufacturers and restaurants to reformulate their products. This prohibition will significantly impact suppliers of partially hydrogenated oils and products containing trans fat, and push cooking oil producers, food manufacturers as well as restaurants to reformulate their products. The ban of partially hydrogenated oil in foods will impact the food industry from upstream — oil and raw material — to downstream process — for example, doughnuts, fried products, snacks and so on,. . While the new law may hurt many oil producers and food manufacturers, others may be rejoicing. For food companies, these trans fats are a boon, extending shelf life and ensuring food tastes the same over time. Suppliers of other oils or alternatives, such as palm oil, are likely to benefit following the implementation of the Order. Thailand is the third-largest palm oil producer in the world at a distant 1.2% of global production, compared to Indonesia and Malaysia at 53.4% and 37.9%.