Thailand’s artificial trans fats ban implementation well-received by PepsiCo and food industry
The ban encompasses not only the manufacturing, importing and distribution of trans fats, but also all food products that contain these.
First announced by the Thai Public Health Ministry on July 13 last year, the ban was slotted to come into effect after 180 days, which was on January 10 this year.
Minister of Public Health Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn told Bangkok Post that the ban had received praise from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
"The WHO praised the government's political will, as well as the inclusive process that it applied to prepare for the ban," said Dr Sakolsatayadorn.
"Instead of telling stakeholders what to do, the ministry listened to to all stakeholders and gave them the opportunity to prepare for the transition."
In response to the ban implementation, PepsiCo Thailand (manufacturer of Lay’s potato chips, one of the top potato chip brands in the country) told FoodNavigator-Asia that it is practising no trans fats in production, hence the new regulation will not impact it negatively.
“Pepsi-Cola (Thai) Trading Company Limited, the producer and distributor of PepsiCo’s snack products in Thailand, confirms that all of its snack products produced in Thailand […] are not fried or baked using Partially Hydrogenated Oils (which contain trans fats),” said a PepsiCo spokeswoman.
“[This includes our] Lay’s potato chips, and all extruded snacks namely Tawan, Sunbites, Twisties and Cheetos.”
The removal of trans fats is an endeavour that PepsiCo in general has been undertaking since the 2000s.
Food service outlets were also quick to respond to the initial announcement of the ban. According to The Bangkok Insight, McDonald’s Thailand that it had not been using trans fat to fry its foods since before the ban announcement, and KFC Thailand also guaranteed all its food to be 100% trans fat free.
Retail outlets such as Tesco Lotus also announced no trans fats initiatives in response, particularly in regard to their in-house bakery sections.
Dr Sakolsatayadorn added that the Thai ministry had also been credited by the WHO for launching ‘an effective public campaign’ to convince the private sector about the importance of the trans fats ban.
To further facilitate the transition process, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also worked with the F&B industry and organisations over the past three months.
Dr Tharet Karatnaiyarawiwong, FDA secretary-general told Bangkok Post that F&B manufacturers had already been recalling trans fat-containing products since before the ban came into force.
He added a reminder that all food importers are now also required to acquire a certificate to prove their products are trans fat free.
What’s the big deal about trans fats
Many scientific studies have linked artificial trans fats consumption to a number of health issues, especially cardiovascular diseases. This is because trans fats can lead to a rise in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), commonly known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, when consumed in large amounts.
The WHO estimates that some 500,000 deaths yearly come as a result of cardiovascular disease caused by trans fats.