Legislative Proposals to Eliminate Trans Fats in Food Filed in Both Chambers of Philippine Congress

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Senators Nancy Binay and Francis Pangilinan respectively sponsored Senate Bills 1916 and 1954, An Act to Protect Filipinos from the Harmful Effects of Trans Fatty Acid or the Trans Fat-Free Philippines Act.  Counterpart bills were also filed at the House of Representative which were authored by Representatives Alfred Delos Santos (House Bill 7200), Ronnie Ong (HB7202), Angelina Tan (HB7934), Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Jr. (HB 8093). 

Once enacted into law, the Philippines will join countries such as Denmark, Argentina, Thailand, and Singapore, among others, which have introduced policies to limit trans fatty acids (TFAs) consumption by banning partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the major source of TFA, and/or limiting TFA content in food, that regulated TFA have seen a significant decline in coronary heart disease (CHD) deaths.  

The authors cited the urgency of addressing the problem of CHD and other cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) especially at this Covid-19 pandemic where patients with comorbidities, such as CHD, have a higher risk of serious illness or death.  Citing WHO, TFA elimination is considered one of the simplest and most straightforward public health interventions to reduce the risk of CVDs and improve nutritional quality of diets. As more countries regulate TFA, countries without regulations become vulnerable to dumping of TFA-rich imported food, thus the urgency to join the global movement to become TFA-free by 2023 by passing the Bill.

The Bill proposes to prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of PHOs and oils and fats with high TFA content.  It also prohibits the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of processed and prepackaged food with PHOs and high TFA content.  Trans fat free claims on the packaging, labeling, marketing, or advertising, that a food is TFA free are likewise prohibited. 

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