Jamaica is progressing work toward the elimination of industrially produced trans-fatty acids (IP-TFA), the presence of which in food are a major cause of cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death among adults.
Jamaica’s progress – including productive dialogue with members of the food industry and work to improve the testing capacity of laboratories – was detailed by Minister of Health & Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, speaking at the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference, which ended in Washington DC on September 30.
“A consultation was conducted in June and September with key stakeholders, including representatives from the food industry, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Small Business Association, Academia, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness to discuss the assessment of industrially produced trans fatty acids in Jamaica, share best practices and discuss policy options for the
elimination of IP-TFA for Jamaica,” the minister said.
Tufton was reporting against the Pan American Health Organisation’s Plan of Action for the Elimination of Industrially Produced Trans-fatty Acids 2020-2025.
“Jamaica has not yet enacted policies to eliminate IP-TFA. However, work is being done to increase the capacity of government labs to assess products. Two major labs have been provided with equipment to test for IP-TFA and the relevant staff members have been trained to analyse products in accordance with established guidelines,” he noted.
Jamaica has also conducted a national assessment of foods that are sources of IP-TFA and the amount of IP-TFA in the food items.
“The study findings have been shared with key stakeholders, including the general public, the media, academia, food industry, governmental organisations, policymakers and advocacy groups. This serves as the pre-regulatory assessment,” the minister explained.
The island has also implemented education and communication strategies on the negative health impacts of TFA and the benefits of the elimination policies.
“These have been conducted between 2021 and 2022 through consultations with key stakeholders, such as academia, policymakers, and representatives from the food industry, media and the general public,” Tufton noted.
Jamaica, he added, is committed to making best efforts to further progress work to eliminate IP-TFA in line the four strategic lines of action of the policy, notably:
- enacting regulatory policies to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils (PHO) from the food supply and/or to limit IP-TFA content to no more than two per cent of total fat in all food products;
- implementing IP-TFA elimination policies by means of clearly defined regulatory enforcement systems;
- assessing progress of IP-TFA elimination policies and their impact on the food supply and on human consumption; and
- creating awareness, through outreach and educational campaigns, of the negative health impacts of TFA and the health benefits to be gained from the elimination of IP-TFA, among policymakers, producers, suppliers, and the public.
“We are committed to implementing the four strategic lines of action. Thanks PAHO for the technical support in this area,” the minister said.