International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) creeps closer to WHO
Below is an example of why its risky to praise voluntary commitments of food corporations. While we of course support WHO’s efforts to bring about legal bans in all countries of industrially produced Transfats (TFAs) we ask if its wise to promote the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA)? IBFA is the front group for 12 of the world’s largest producers of ultra-processed foods, including Nestlé, Unilever, Pepsico etc. IFBA corporations have been responsible for much of the global consumption of TFAs for decades and have been removing them since the risks were highlighted.
While IFBA members boast about the healthiness of their products, (and many have already agreed to vuluntarily remove TFAs) they overlook the risks of high levels of sugar, salt, fat etc, fail to mention that processing denatures the product and intensify their lobby to weaken government efforts to control harmful marketing. It will be a major coup for IFBA to gain Official Relations status with WHO ((1) that they will use to gain greater access to policy makers. Unless a TFA ban is accompanied by regulations to forbid promotional claims and harmful marketing, the public will be mislead into thinking that TFA free junk food is the healthy option and that the companies are appropriate ‘partners’ in tackling public health.
We believe it would be better for WHO to focus on helping governments bring in laws to ban industrially-produced trans fats as Denmark did in 2003.(2)
(1) Nestlé and the other baby food companies used to attend WHA governing meetings as ISDI – but lost this status in 2013)
(2) The trans fat content of food products in Denmark fell dramatically alongside cardiovascular disease deaths – more quickly than in comparable OECD countries. Quite a few EU member states have introduced regulation on maximum levels of IPTFA, and the EU regulation finally adopted legislation this year.
WHO welcomes industry action to align with global trans fat elimination targets