ImagineLaw welcomes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s commitment to eliminate toxic trans fat from the Philippines’ food supply within two years.
The FDA ensures the elimination of trans fat in the country’s food supply by developing best-practice regulations with strong enforcement and monitoring mechanisms. The regulations will implement the recently-issued Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order No. 2021-0039 setting the national policy to remove industrial trans fatty acids (TFA) that cause heart attacks.
The FDA held a public consultation last December 16 on the draft regulations prohibiting the manufacture, importation, and distribution of food with partially hydrogenated oil and high TFA content. In its draft regulations, the FDA requires manufacturers, importers, and distributors to submit a Certificate of Analysis disclosing the TFA content per 100g of total oils and fats in their food products.
“By adopting best-practice regulations and setting a two-year timeline for implementation, the government will ensure improved health outcomes for every Filipino. As more people living with cardiovascular diseases are at a higher risk of suffering from severe forms of COVID-19, it becomes imperative to act now and to act quickly,” Atty. Mary Grace Anne Rosales – Sto. Domingo, ImagineLaw’s Project Manager for the Healthy Diet Initiative explained.
The FDA also disallows “TFA-Free” claims on the product labels and reiterates the implementation of accurate food nutrition labeling. This will ease the burden on consumers to avoid misleading claims on the nutrition labels and product marketing and ensure that available pre-packaged and processed food items in the market are safe for all consumers.
The FDA is currently consolidating comments on the draft regulations from the food industry and health groups. The FDA endeavors to continue exploring resources and interventions to ease the transition process for the food industry. Dr. Maria Victoria Pinion, Chief of the FDA’s Center for Food Regulation and Research – Product Research and Standards Development Division (CFRR – PRSDD), reinforced the FDA’s commitment to ensure consumers’ health and to act urgently on the policy in her closing remarks during the public consultation.
Philippines’ Feature in the WHO Report
The Philippines is the second lower-middle-income country to pass a best-practice policy on trans fat elimination, contributing to the global fight for a trans fat-free world by 2023. In the World Health Organization (WHO) 2021 Global Status Report on Trans Fat Elimination, the Philippines was featured as a case study for implementing a multi-pronged strategy consisting of administrative and legislative actions, public engagement campaigns, and multi-sectoral collaboration. The report also highlighted the AO’s mandate to enforce guidelines within two years, which aligns with the WHO-recommended best practice standards.
In the Global Status Report’s launch event, the WHO lauded the Philippine government for its strong and sustainable actions against TFA. “We know that the Philippines is rising to the challenge of promoting cardiovascular health amid this global pandemic through the issuance of the national policy, and joining many other countries that have banned the use of industrially-produced trans fat,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative in the Philippines remarked.
Complementary Legislative Measure
To ensure holistic protection of Filipinos’ heart health, law group ImagineLaw alongside nutrition groups Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians (PSND), Nutritionist Dietitians Association of the Philippines (NDAP), Nutrition Center of the Philippines (NCP), and Nutrition Foundation of the Philippines (NFP), also advocate for the passage of the Trans Fat Free Philippines Bill currently pending in Congress.
Once passed and enacted into law, the Bill will remove TFA from all types of food sources including food establishments and traditional and informal markets.