The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched Heart Attack Rewind, a mass media campaign calling for the elimination of industrially-produced trans fat in the food supply.

The 30-second public service announcement (PSA) – the first mass media campaign of its kind – will support FSSAI’s global target of eliminating trans fat in India by the year 2022, a year ahead of the global target by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the complete elimination of trans fat.

Globally, trans fat intake leads to over 5,00,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) every year. Trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, and to increase the shelf life of foods. Trans fats are largely present in vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings, and can be found in baked and fried foods.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, said, “FSSAI is committed to reducing the industrially-produced trans fatty acids to less than two per cent by the year 2022 in a phased manner. This is in line with our objective to get Freedom from Trans Fat: India@75. I am hopeful that this media campaign will educate consumers about the harmful effects and its link to cardiovascular diseases.”

Heart Attack Rewind warns citizens about the health hazards of consuming trans fat and offers strategies to avoid them through healthier alternatives. The campaign was developed by experts at Vital Strategies.

Nandita Murukutla from Vital Strategies said, “Trans fats have no known health benefits, and put Indians at risk for cardiovascular diseases and other health issues. Healthier alternatives can be used without changing the taste or cost of food. Regulatory measures paired with strategic, large-scale mass media campaigns can help reduce the growing menace of trans fat in India. We congratulate FSSAI for their commitment to saving lives by reducing trans fat from India’s food supply.”

In May 2018, WHO launched a comprehensive plan to eliminate industrially-produced trans fat from the global food supply by 2023. REPLACE provides a roadmap about how countries can remove and replace all trans fat from their food supplies with the intention to eradicate it from the globe.

FSSAI’s plan to lower the levels of trans fat in India’s food supply from the present less that five per cent to less than two per cent was supported by a pledge that the vanaspati manufacturers, food companies, bakery associations and others signed in a consultation earlier this year.

Heart Attack Rewind will be broadcast in 17 languages for a period of four weeks on major digital platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Hotstar, and Voot. Additionally, the campaign will also be placed on radio stations and outdoor hoardings in Delhi/NCR. A corresponding social media campaign will also highlight the harmful effects of trans fat on people’s health.