The Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday reminded food companies to reformulate and remove industrially-produced trans fatty acids (ITFA) from their products by June 18, 2023 in compliance with DOH Administrative Order 2021-0039 and FDA Circular 2021-028.
“The DOH, together with the FDA and the National Nutrition Council [NNC], works to ensure that iTFA-free policies are fully implemented. We expect no less than the food industry’s full compliance to protect Filipinos’ heart health,” Officer in Charge Undersecretary Beverly Ho of the DOH’s Public Health Services Team said during a news conference in Quezon City that was also joined by health and nutrition groups.
ITFA, a toxic fat, increases the risk of developing comorbidities and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), according to DOH. After the deadline, pre-packaged and processed food with iTFA will be banned from sale to consumers. Food products with high iTFA that need to be reformulated include margarine and instant coffee.
“Pilipinas in 2023 will be iTFA-free,” Dr. Ho added.
Dir. Pilar Marilyn Pagayunan of the FDA Center for Food Regulation and Research, meanwhile, said that after June 18, 2023, all product formulations and labels of pre-packaged processed food containing industrially-produced TFA shall be fully compliant with these guidelines.
“Immediately thereafter, any establishment found to be in violation of any provision of the DOH Administrative Order 2021-0039 and FDA Circular 2021-028 shall be ground for disapproval and suspension or cancellation of CPR,” she warned.
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A health group also urged President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to effectively address heart disease in the Philippines by supporting legislation that will ban ITFA in the country’s food supply.
“Building back better means creating an environment that promotes healthy choices for Filipinos,” said Atty. Sophia San Luis, Executive Director of public interest law group ImagineLaw.
San Luis added, “Heart disease is not only the leading cause of death for Filipinos, it also leads to more severe Covid-19 outcomes. By eliminating iTFA, we are one step closer to building a healthy and resilient Philippines.”