Mexico has taken a major step in the fight against non-communicable diseases thanks to a bill that prohibits adding partially hydrogenated oils, commonly known as trans fats, to food and nonalcoholic beverages. Studies suggest that trans fats cause nearly 20,000 preventable deaths each year in Mexico, making it one of the most significant dietary risk factors for cardiovascular disease, according to the Government of Mexico.
The new law bans the use of trans fats in industrial products intended for human consumption, reads a press release by the Ministry of Health. The bill, which adds Article 216 Bis to the General Law of Health, was approved by the Chamber of Deputies with 472 votes in favor, zero against and zero abstentions.
Hugo López-Gatell, Deputy Minister of Health, praises the bill for its significance in reducing the prevalence of metabolic cardiovascular mortality, as most trans fats consumed by people are part of junk food. López-Gatell emphasizes the work of the Mexican government in addressing the major epidemic of non-communicable diseases in the country.
The addition to Article 216 Bis of the General Health Law reads that “Foods, non-alcoholic beverages, oils and fats may not exceed two parts of industrially produced trans fatty acids for every one hundred parts of total fatty acids. The Ministry of Health will establish the regulation bases for trans fatty acids of industrial production under the terms of this precept.”
With the addition of Article 216 bis, Mexico is in compliance with the recommendations from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), which suggest to limit trans fats in food and prohibit the use of partially hydrogenated oils.
Ruy López Riadura, General Director, National Center for Preventive Programs and Disease Control (CENAPRECE), says that this achievement could not have been made without the coordinated work of Mexico’s Ministry of Health, civil society organizations and the correspondent Legislative Branch. This legislation was a “pending agenda that had been stuck or frozen since previous legislatures,” says López. The next step to eliminate industrial trans fatty acids is to work on the regulations, he adds, which is part of the administration’s strategy to reduce the consumption of harmful substances contained in some foods.
With this, Mexico joins countries such as the US, Canada and Denmark, which have already banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats. López-Gatell says that this measure, combined with front labeling, will help to combat cardiovascular disease, one of the most prevalent causes for premature deaths across the world.