Health ministry moves to eliminate trans fats from local food supply
Work has begun towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids from the local food supply. This as part of efforts by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to reduce risk factors for non-communicable diseases, which remain prevalent across the island.
“Work is being done to increase the capacity of government labs to assess products. Two major labs have been provided with equipment to test for industrially produced trans-fatty acids (IP-TFA) and the relevant staff members have been trained to analyse products in accordance with established guidelines,” said Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.
She was speaking at the 170th Session of the Pan American Health Organization Executive Committee in Washington, DC last Friday.
Noting that significant work is ahead before the country ratifies the plan of action for the elimination of industrially produced trans-fatty acids, the CMO highlighted that plans are in train for the development of regulatory policy.
This includes pre-regulatory assessment in the form of a national study assessing foods that are sources of IP-TFA – findings of which have been shared with key stakeholders, including the general public, the food industry, media entities, academia, government bodies, policymakers and advocacy groups.
“A consultation was conducted on June 14, 2022, with key stakeholders, including representatives from the food industry, Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Small Business Association, academia and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to discuss the assessment of industrially produced trans-fatty acids in Jamaica, share best practices, and discuss policy options for the elimination of IP-TFA for Jamaica,” the CMO added.
The national assessment also details the amount of industrially produced trans fats contained in foods commonly consumed by Jamaicans. Trans fats are a leading cause of high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and stroke.