Argentina's happy “farewell” to trans fats is declared on December 10 of this year. Since then, the last phase of a new regulation has been applied (the modification of article 155 of the Argentine Food Code *) that almost totally prohibits its use in products intended for human consumption: a pioneering action at the international level.
The amount of products with trans fats in supermarkets and kiosks is staggering: margarines, sweet and salty cookies, sweets, cereal bars, pastry baths, smoothies and sweet or savory doughs, baked goods, snacks and alfajores.
Boys are the group most threatened by these types of products, which are so harmful to health, and for that reason the biggest beneficiaries of the new regulation. According to the latest ENNyS (National Survey of Nutrition and Health, 2005), children from 6 months to 5 years old consume an average of 36.5g of dry sweet cookies per day, which means a contribution of 1g of trans fat per day . This value is almost the totality admitted by the WHO for this age group, since they would contribute 90.2% of the accepted fats.
In an investigation by the Inter-American Heart Foundation (FIC), locally produced products were analyzed and in several areas the trans fat values exceeded acceptable limits: especially, pastry baths, which abound in alfajores and sweets, butter croissants and baked goods in general.
Trans fats are used above all in industrialized products such as bread and snacks as an economical alternative to achieve consistency, increase flavor and extend the shelf life of food. They are oils of vegetable origin, which undergo a transformation by heat and subsequent hydrogenation (hydrogen addition) but they do not exist naturally in any food: they are the consequence of these chemical processes carried out by man. They appear on the labels as "hydrogenated vegetable oil" which sounds a lot less alarming but is exactly the same. The scientific evidence about their damage to the body is undeniable today: the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends globally to countries to withdraw them from the market. These substances produce an increase in bad cholesterol (LDL) and a decrease in good cholesterol (HDL), which favors the development of many diseases. It can also lead to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and even sudden death. As it directly impacts metabolism, it is related to obesity.
All this shows the great importance of its limitation for health, considering that most people do not spend a few minutes reading the labels before choosing products on the shelves (not to mention choosing products from fairs and markets, direct from producers, without industrialization !!). We know that the most important thing is to learn to be informed, reading the labels with nutritional information, to know how to choose the healthiest option. Meanwhile, we celebrate the new regulation that prevents the advance of these evils for those who have not yet learned to notice.
* ARGENTINE FOOD CODE
Chapter III- Article 155 tris: "The content of industrially produced trans fatty acids in food must not be greater than: 2% of the total fats in vegetable oils and margarines destined for direct consumption and 5% of the total fats in the rest of the food. These limits do not apply to fats from ruminants, including milk fat ”.