Mr Benjamin Anabila, the Director of the Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA) has called on stakeholders in health to support in the campaign to eliminate Trans-Fatty Acids (TFAs) in the Ghanaian food supply system by 2023.
This he said would help protect the lives of the people from the harmful effect of the consumption of trans-fat.
He explained that a research finding by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2021 estimated that 500,000 people die annually from heart-related diseases as a result of trans-fat consumption, while in Ghana the number of heart disease deaths was about 18,000 every year, according to the Ministry of Health.
He said the task to eliminate TFAs was huge and entreated CSOs, the media and health institutions to come on board to assist in the campaign to protect public health, as flyers and posters have been made available for awareness creation.
Mr Anabila made the call at a day’s forum organised by INSLA, a non-profit civil society organisation to validate a Regulatory and Legislative Desk Review Report (February 2022) on existing measures in eliminating Trans Fat in Ghana by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
It was attended by representatives from the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Nutrition Department of the Ghana Health Service, National Health Insurance Authority, the Ministry of Health, Ghana Revenue Authority, School Health Education Programme of the Ghana Education Service, the FDA, among others.
The Review Report indicated that there were no existing regulatory and legislative measures to reduce trans-fat in foods.
“Nutrient declaration is not mandatory; consequently, when TFA-related nutrition and health claims are made on food products, the Food and Drugs Authority requires nutrient declaration (including TFA content) and substantiation,” it stated.
The Report noted that there were three major existing regulatory measures worldwide being employed to reduce trans-fat, which were to set mandatory maximum limits in foods; total ban on partially hydrogenated oils and/or mandatory labelling.
The Report recommended that Ghana adopted the mandatory approach towards the reduction of trans-fat in the country by enforcing mandatory nutrition labelling while enhancing the capacity of the country’s laboratories to carry out the necessary tests.
It said Ghana should undertake research towards the determination of the maximum limit for TFA in foods.
“A two per cent reduction of TFA in vegetable oils and margarines and five per cent in all other foods may be considered for adoption because Ghana is primarily an importing country, therefore, placing strict restrictions may impede trade,” the Report stated.
Mr Issah Ali, the Project Manager of INSLA said the Review Report would be used as a guide to go hand-in-hand with public education on the health risks of the consumption of trans-fat while advocating for the passage of regulations.
“It would be very difficult to say that we have to educate the entire Ghanaians before we push for legislation. It doesn’t happen that way; normally we adopt multi-strategies/tactics while dealing with the education, policies and legislation,” he said.
Mr Ali said the Report had already highlighted the challenges by acknowledging the fact for the undertaking of research and laboratory capacity challenges, adding; “But we believe the Report is a guide that would take us through to what we want to do and achieve the ultimate purpose of eliminating TFA.