Heart Foundation of Jamaica calls for front-of-package labelling

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Heart Foundation of Jamaica calls for front-of-package labelling

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), through its Global Health Advocacy Project (GHAP), is calling for front-of-package labelling on food packages, which will provide consumers with information to make healthier food choices.

Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday, HFJ's GHAP Advocacy Officer, Vonetta Nurse, said the move is in keeping with the entity's continued efforts to fight obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“In Jamaica, the nutrition-facts panel on our products is not mandatory for all food items, so you'll find that some products don't have the label. There are also difficulties understanding the label in its current form, so what we are calling for is simple labelling on the front of food packages to allow consumers to know what is in the food,” she said.

“In this campaign, our messages are clear; give us the facts. Important information about the food should be placed on the package in a way that is easy for consumers to understand giving them opportunities to make healthier choices,” she added.

CARICOM leaders, at the 39th Conference of Heads of Government in Jamaica in July 2018, endorsed front-of-package labelling as a priority area in the fight against NCDs.

A number of member states are revising the 2010 CARICOM Regional Standard for Specification for labelling of pre-packaged foods (CRS 5:2010). The process is being led locally by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ).

Representative of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), which is the regional standards development body, Cheryl Lewis, said that the 'High in' model is being considered, which makes it easy for the average consumer to be able to interpret the information on the product label.

“So even a small child with limited reading skills can understand that the product is not good for them by simply being able to recognise black octagons on the label with words such as 'High in Sugar' or 'High in Sodium',” she explained.

In addition to front-of-package labelling, the HFJ has recommended a raft of policy measures to address obesity and NCDs.

These include taxes on unhealthy foods, implementation of an improved School Nutrition Policy, health promotion, and steps to address marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

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