PepsiCo praises Thailand’s new trans fat ban

Global food conglomerate PepsiCo of the United States joined the World Health Organization in praising the Thai government’s ban on trans fats that came into effect last week as the company noted that it has already eliminated trans fats from all of its products sold in the Kingdom.

The government instituted the ban on trans fats in the interests of public health. Although Thais have a reputation for being slim, as do many Asian populations, obesity has been a steadily growing problem, and heart disease and strokes are the second and third leading causes of death among Thais. Researchers have concluded that trans fats contribute to those problems.

Public health officials have attributed the rise in obesity and heart disease to the adoption of more elements of Western diets by Thais. Fast food, junk food, and other items have become popular in the Kingdom. So have healthier trends in Western cuisine, but to a lesser degree at this time, although they are gaining ground.

“Pepsi-Cola (Thailand) Trading Company confirms that all of its snack products produced in Thailand are not fried or baked in Partially Hydrogenated Oils (which contain trans fats),” a company spokeswoman said. The company locally makes and sells Lays potato chips, Cheetos, and Twisties among other snack foods.

Both McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken also told reporters that they had eliminated all trans fats from their foods sold in Thailand in anticipation of the government ban.

The ban was approved last July, and companies were given 180 days to comply. That grace period ended on January 10. The Thai Food and Drug Administration said that companies had been recalling products containing trans fats ever since the ban was first announced. Importers are required to obtain a certificate documenting their products do not include that ingredient.

Minister of Public Health Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said the World Health Organization (WHO) had told him Thailand had conducted “an effective campaign” to inform private sector food producers about the harmful effects of trans fats, make them aware of the coming ban, and ensure that companies were complying.

“The WHO praised the government’s political will, as well as the inclusive process that it applied to prepare for the ban,” the minister said. “Instead of telling stakeholders what to do, it listened to them and helped them prepare.”