By Kornrawee Panyasuppakun
“Such a misleading label is an offence under the Food Act and punishable by a fine of up to a Bt30,000,” FDA Food Bureau chief Supattra Boonserm said yesterday.
Trans fats caught the public’s attention after legislation was published in the Royal Gazette earlier this month that the production, import and sale of industrial trans fats, referring to partially hydrogenated oils, will be banned in Thailand beginning on January 9.
Supattra said that, apart from industrial trans fats, there were also natural trans fats.
“Products containing no industrial trans fats may have a high amount of saturated fat and that can be harmful to consumers’ health too. So product labels should not confuse or mislead consumers,” she said. “Trans-fats-free labels could make some consumers believe the products are healthy.”
She said some brands had lately described their products as “trans-fats-free”.
Supattra said the FDA also planned to conduct random checks after the ban took effect.
“We will inspect manufacturing facilities and check products at distribution outlets too. Those who still use industrial trans fats will face both a jail term and a fine,” she said.
The fine will range between Bt5,000 and Bt20,000.
Assoc Prof Wantanee Kriengsinyos, who teaches at Mahidol University’s Institute of Nutrition, said saturated fat posed a bigger risk to Thais because a survey showed just 13 per cent of products contained excess trans fats, but 53 per cent of products had excess saturated fat.
Dr Khanat Kruthakul, a cardiologist and nutritionist, said Thais’ love of deep-fried food had created high consumption of saturated fat. He recommended that people opt for steamed and boiled foods instead.