Industrialist calls for ban on trans-fatty acids

A Ghanaian industrialist on Monday urged the government and parliament to ban the production and importation of trans-fatty acids to reduce major diseases caused by such foods and also earn revenue for the country. In a press statement in Accra, Dr Kaku Kyiamah noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had advised nations and individuals that trans-fatty acids should be eliminated from the food chain, as they are bad for health. "Almost all the scientific research and studies show that trans-fatty acids are a major causative factor of most of the chronic lifestyle diseases such as heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunction, infertility and pot-belies, among others," he said. Foods that contain relatively large amounts of trans-fatty acids include margarines, high-fat baked goods and any product for which the label says "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils", "hydrogenated vegetable oils" or "shortening". Dr Kyiamah said experts and international organisations agree that trans-fatty acids were produced mainly during the processing of unsaturated vegetable fats to make them presentable as edible fat. He said a number of countries including the US, Canada and European Union countries, had been taking steps to eliminate such processed unsaturated fats, which is the source of trans-fatty acids, from their food chain. Dr Kyiamah noted that many countries had been shifting from unsaturated fat to tropical saturated fats for food, saying India had recommended that their food industry should use saturated palm and coconut oil while China had started using palm oil and coconut oil for its confectionaries. He said the common edible fats, which did not normally contain trans-fatty acids, were organic saturated milk, virgin tropical saturated fats such as red palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and virgin olive oil. Dr Kyiamah said the hard cash would be earned through increased export of edible tropical saturated fats, as shown by the exports already taking place in the shea industry. The "soft cash", he said, would come through savings in foreign exchange by the reduction in the importation of trans-fatty acids loaded "edible fats" such as refined bleached and deodorised unsaturated fats, margarines and shortening, increased production of tropical saturated fats, such as indigenous palm oil, shea butter, palm kernel oil and coconut oil thus generating jobs. There will also be a reduction in the chronic lifestyle-related diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, asthma, whites, peptic ulcers, prostrate enlargements and cancers, breast cancer, skin diseases, reduction in infertility problems and reduction of abnormal births, such as autistic children. Other advantages are increase in the birth weight of new born babies and healthy growth of children; increase in normal birth, reduction in caesarean operations, and reduction in chest diseases.