Law group welcomes bills banning trans fat

“Time’s up for trans fat.”

This was the statement of public interest law group ImagineLaw on Wednesday as it welcomed bills filed by several members of Congress seeking to ban industrially-produced trans fatty acids (iTFAs) in the country’s food supply.

The law group said that the passage of a Trans Fat Free Philippines Law will improve Filipinos’ heart health since high intake of trans fats contributes to cardiovascular diseases, citing data from the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or trans fats are a toxic substance usually used by food manufacturers to prolong food products’ shelf life. TFAs are commonly-found in margarine, instant coffee, donuts, and many others.

Senators Nancy Binay, Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla, Jr., and Joel Villanueva filed Senate Bills No. 116 (co-authored with Sen. Risa Hontiveros), 1207, and 1286, respectively. The bills mandate food manufacturers to reformulate and eventually eliminate trans fatty acids or TFAs in their products.

Counterpart measures were also recently filed in the House of Representatives by Laguna First District Rep. Ann Matibag (House Bill No. 1485), Quezon Rep. Mike Tan (House Bill No. 2548), and Ang Probinsyano Partylist Rep. Alfred delos Santos (House Bill No. 4379). If passed into law, resources will also be allocated to strengthen the institutional capacity of regulatory agencies and ensure that all food sources of iTFA are removed.

“We welcome this multi-partisan effort for a national legislation in the 19th Congress that will improve Filipinos’ cardiovascular health,” said Atty. Sophia San Luis, ImagineLaw’s executive director. “These measures will institutionalize existing policies that seek to remove trans fat from our diet,” she added.

In 2021, the DOH released Administrative Order No. 2021-0039 that sets the plan to eliminate iTFA in the country’s food supply. In the same year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also released Circular No. 2021-028, a set of guidelines for food manufacturers to remove iTFAs in their products by June 2023.

“Heart disease is the number one killer for Filipinos,” said San Luis. “The Trans Fat Free Philippines Law will help protect our families and loved ones from cardiovascular diseases,” she also said.