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Bill regulating trans fat content in food hurdles House panel

A MEASURE seeking to regulate the trans fat content in food was approved in committee at the House of Representatives.

The House committee on health approved Wednesday the consolidation of four bills regulating the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of food products with high levels of trans fats, also known as trans-fatty acids (TFA).

Quezon Representative Angelina D.L. Tan, one the bill’s authors, said TFA accounts for “500,000 deaths each year, globally, increases the risk of death by 34%, and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity by 23% and 28%, respectively.”

“I believe that this important piece of legislation is significantly urgent, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic where patients with comorbidities, such as coronary heart diseases, have a higher risk of serious illness or death,” the legislator, who is also a physician, said.

If signed into law, the measure will prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of food products with hydrogenated oil (PHO); oils and fats made or blended with PHOs; or oils and fats with TFA content of more than 2 grams per 100 grams, excluding TFA content from ruminant sources.

The measure hopes to require manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of oils and fats, and food service establishments, to submit their inventory of food products to the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Trade and Industry.

Under the measure, the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and local government units will develop policies and programs providing incentives for small businesses that voluntarily comply with the law.

The bill also tasks the Department of Health, in coordination with the Department of Science and Technology — Food and Nutrition Research Institute, to conduct regular screening and monitoring of TFA population consumption in the Expanded National Nutrition Survey.

Under the measure, first-time violators are liable for a fine of between P50,000 and P100,000 and face the suspension of their licenses and possible criminal and administrative proceedings. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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