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A lot of overseas research has pointed out that excessive consumption of artificial trans fats increases chances of suffering from cardiovascular diseases and is the main cause of the decline of human health. On June 16, the FDA announced the banning of certain hydrogenated vegetable oils in the food industry within the next three years.

On September 7, the Food and Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it has decided to follow in the steps of the United States and will ban the food industry from using artificial trans fats in 2018. Violators will be fined NT$ 3,000,000 (approximately US$ 91,000) at most according to the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation.

Storm Media reports, the Food and Drug Administration drafted the standards for edible hydrogenated oils on September 7. Zeng Su-xiang of the administration says trans fats come from natural and artificial sources; the natural sources are mostly stored in cows and other ruminant animals, while artificial origins come from the hydrogenated vegetable oils usually used in breads and cakes. Trans fats are produced if the hydrogenation process is not complete.

After discussing with experts, the administration also decided to ban partially partially hydrogenated vegetable oil after three years of grace period to avoid artificial trans fats endangering public health.

Starting from July, the administration began to implement new regulations that require trans fats labels to include the amount of natural fat. The amount of natural fat can only be labeled 0 if its content is under 0.3%.

UDN reports, the World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to fully terminate the use of trans fats by 2025. The FDA also estimates that the prohibition of trans fats can help avoid 20,000 people suffer from heart attacks in the United States and save 7,000 lives.

WHO also points out that if two percent of trans fats calories are completely replaced by monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats then 23 percent of the cardiovascular disease mortality rate can be reduced. If 0.5 percent of trans fat calories are reduced from the total amount of calories, then the chances of lethal strokes can be cut down by three percent and fatal coronary diseases by six percent.

Apple Daily reports, Chen Bin-huei, visiting professor at the Department of Food Science at Fu Jen Catholic University, says the saturation, heat-resistant and storage life of vegetable oil can be boosted through hydrogenation.

He says the purpose of partially hydrogenation is to add crispiness to baked goods. The food becomes too hard if the vegetable oil is completely hydrogenated and affects its taste.

The Health Promotion Administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare reminds that the daily intake of trans fats should not exceed one percent of the total amount of calories. For example, if a 60-kg person consumes 1,800 Kcal daily, then the maximum amount of trans fats the person can intake is two grams. Children are much lighter than adults, so it’s easier for them to over consume.

The administration recommends paying attention to nutrition labels when purchasing foods and choose those with containing zero trans fats. Some products may be labeled that they are produced with vegetable oil and reassure consumers, but processing of the oil makes it even more harmful to the human body. Consuming four to five grams of trans fats a day will increase risks of suffering from cardiovascular disease by 23 percent.

Translated by Olivia Yang