Laguna Rep. Ma. Rene Ann Matibag’s Anti-Trans Fat Bill or House Bill No. 1485, one of the first 12 bills she passed in her first month in the chamber, has made it to the first reading in the House of Representatives on Monday, August 1, in a bid protect the health and welfare of the Filipinos.
The neophyte lawmaker from the first district of Laguna, City of San Pedro believes that it is time to get rid of the industrially-produced trans fatty acids from the foods industry at all costs.
As a great advocate of healthy living in the province of Laguna during her term as a provincial board member, Matibag expects the bill to turn into law soon.
“Based on scientific studies, trans fatty acids are very unhealthy and dangerous to human health,” Matibag explains. “It’s about time to prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of food products containing these substances.”
Matibag welcomed the latest development, saying the House Bill is one of her many priorities as a “champion of nutrition” especially for mothers and their children to be healthy at all times.
“Team Matibag is also planning to roll out more bills on nutrition and food security as work under the 19th Congress is underway,” she said. “A healthy living is what our country needs especially during these times.”
Matibag added even the World Health Organization (WHO) is discouraging everyone to use trans fat intake as it leads to more than 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease around the world every year.
“If WHO recommends its elimination, why don’t we implement the same thing also here in our country as one of the simplest public health interventions to reduce the risk of suffering diseases related to unhealthy diets like cardiovascular diseases,” she said.
“It doesn’t provide any nutritional benefits. It only increases the levels of harmful cholesterol while decreasing the levels of good cholesterol.”
Food manufacturers are using hydrogenated oils that produce fatty acids in hardened vegetable fats because they have longer shelf lives than other types of fats.
For Matibag, House Bill No. 1485 seeks to prohibit the use of hydrogenated oils and other oils and fats with trans-fatty acid content of two grams per 100 grams.
She said the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) will check the packaging and labeling of the food products which are free of trans fatty acids, and impose huge penalties on those who will violate them.
Matibag explained the proposed legislation will implement a crop diversification program to develop healthy alternative oilseeds, and provide seminars on reformulation for business operators to comply with the regulations under the bill.
The passage of the bill on first reading coincides with the conclusion of Nutrition Month, which is celebrated every July pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 491 issued in 1974 by former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.