The World Health Organization (WHO) honored Saudi Arabia yesterday at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The Saudi Food and Drug Authority received recognition for eliminating artificial trans fats from the Kingdom’s food products.
This achievement places Saudi Arabia among the first five countries globally, alongside Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, and Thailand.
Saudi Food, Drug Authority’s Efforts
The CEO of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, Dr. Hisham bin Saad Al-Jadhey, expressed gratitude to the WHO during the ceremony. He highlighted the authority’s commitment to public health and chronic disease prevention.
This aligns with Saudi Vision 2030 and the Health Sector Transformation Program, aiming to improve life expectancy and well-being in the Kingdom.
Since 2017, the authority has implemented strategies to promote healthy eating, improve nutritional value in food products, and reduce salt, sugar, and fat content.
Notable policies include calorie disclosure in eateries and banning partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of artificial trans fats, effective from January 1, 2020.
Comprehensive Nutrition Policies
Saudi Arabia has developed a comprehensive system of policies and initiatives to improve dietary patterns and promote healthier food choices. These efforts involve collaboration between public and private sectors.
The Kingdom’s commitment aims to reduce deaths caused by artificial trans fats, estimated at 500,000 annually worldwide. These fats are significant contributors to cardiovascular diseases.
Mandatory Steps Since 2015
Since 2015, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority has taken mandatory and advisory steps to reduce trans fat consumption. This includes setting maximum limits for trans fats in oils and fats (2%) and other food products (5%).
The ban on partially hydrogenated oils in 2020 has enhanced individual health, reduced the economic burden of related diseases, and facilitated the international marketing of Saudi-made food products, renowned for being free of artificial trans fats.
The authority has also advanced its laboratories to verify the absence of artificial trans fats in food products.
Global Leadership in Eliminating Trans Fats
Saudi Arabia’s successful elimination of artificial trans fats has earned it a leadership role. Consequently, it now leads the international advisory group tackling this issue. Faisal bin Fahd bin Suneid, Director of Healthy Food Administration, represents the Kingdom. Additionally, Saudi Arabia oversees the team evaluating requests for WHO recognition of trans fat-free foods.
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