The Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with various health and nutrition  groups reminded food companies to remove industrially-produced trans fatty acids (iTFA) from their products by June 18, 2023.

“The DOH, together with the FDA and the National Nutrition Council (NNC), works to ensure that iTFA-free policies are fully implemented. We expect no less than the food industry’s full compliance to protect Filipinos’ heart health,” OIC Usec. Beverly Ho of the DOH’s Public Health Services Team said during the press conference in Quezon City.

iTFA, a toxic fat, increases the risk of developing comorbidities and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), according to the DOH. DOH Administrative Order 2021-0039 and FDA Circular 2021-028 ban the sale of pre-packaged and processed food containing iTFA by June 18, 2023. Food products with high iTFA that need to be reformulated include margarine and instant coffee.

“After June 18, 2023, all product formulations and labels of pre-packaged processed food containing industrially-produced TFA shall be fully compliant with these guidelines, immediately thereafter, any establishment found to be in violation of any provision of the DOH Administrative Order 2021-0039 and FDA Circular 2021-028 shall be ground for disapproval and suspension or cancellation of CPR,” warned Dir. Pilar Marilyn Pagayunan of the FDA Center for Food Regulation and Research.

Groups also urged President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. to effectively address heart disease in the Philippines by supporting legislation that will ban iTFA in the country’s food supply.

“Building back better means creating an environment that promotes healthy choices for Filipinos,” said Atty. Sophia San Luis, Executive Director of public interest law group ImagineLaw. “Heart disease is not only the leading cause of death for Filipinos, it also leads to more severe COVID-19 outcomes. By eliminating iTFA, we are one step closer to building a healthy and resilient Philippines”, she added

“As we strive to adapt to the new normal, President Marcos must protect the Filipinos’ health by ensuring that the Philippines becomes TFA-free,” urged Dr. Zenaida Velasco of the Nutritionist-Dietitians Association of the Philippines (NDAP). “This coming SONA, we urge PBBM to include iTFA elimination as part of his priority health agenda,” she added.