National Baking Company gives consumers healthier choices

Associate editor - news/health

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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MINISTER of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has given his stamp of approval to the National Baking Company's 'Balance Your Life' campaign, calling it a “timely” initiative that other corporate entities should look to replicate.

In fact, the minister pointed out that public health is about choices, which is the push of the baking company's campaign, and that there is not enough focus on prevention.

“…Choices have consequences, positive or negative, and we spend a lot of time, I think, focusing on how we engage in curative measures; this is a public health perspective to deal with the many negative consequences of those choices that we make.

“So oftentimes the debate around public health is around hospital beds, whether or not Dr [Sara] Lawrence (master of ceremonies) has to work 24/7 because we don't have enough doctors, and very few times do we focus resources, the energies, the messages, on the preventative side and the choices that we make and how those choices can enhance the quality of life,” Dr Tufton told yesterday's campaign launch at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew.

The health minister, meanwhile, offered commendations to National Baking Company for its bold step, which he said can go either way for the company.

“I want to say that this is an unusual campaign, which I admire and find very interesting, and hope will be a trendsetter for others to follow,” he said.

The Balance Your Life campaign is focused on educating consumers and rests on the four pillars: Eat, move, play, and rest.

In creating a balanced life, National Baking Company wants customers to eat well, get adequate rest, become more physically active, and make an effort to reduce stress. The company pointed out that the campaign is not being positioned as a health initiative but one that informs consumers about how to make wise choices by highlighting the power of dietary goal setting, understanding food labels, and reinforcing the value of physical and mental wellness in everyday life.

“What you see today is our acknowledgement of the shift of consumers towards healthy food options. But at the same time, what we are going to commit to as a company, is to ensure that you will always, as a nation, as a people, as a consumer, wherever it is that our products are eaten — whether it's here or abroad — we are going to provide you with all the information that you need as an individual to make that choice,” the baking company's chairman and CEO Butch Hendrickson said yesterday.

Besides providing clear labelling on their products, a change, the CEO said, would have been required in another two years, so the company has also moved to reduce the sugar content in its products.

“We reduced the sugar by 33 per cent of our own formula (for bread). If you read the nutritional information you will see the difference in the grams of added sugar,” Hendrickson said.

The baking company's head said, too, that his team will continue looking at healthier options.

“We are not claiming that our products are totally healthy because we are practical about what they contain. What we are saying, we are giving you the information and when we can make them healthier, we absolutely will do that,” he said. “And that's a continual search and when we can launch and find new products for the market that are healthier, we will so do also.”

According to Hendrickson, the message of a balanced life is not for his company but for the entire Jamaica.

“It is important that as a nation… we use our resources… If we can prevent the problems of health that do occur, let us do that — it is the best money we can spend,” the CEO said.

The health minister was fully on board with this.

“...You are looking at an idea that is a lot bigger than the National brand, which is necessary but not required in terms of [their] own mandate and what [they] do, and that, to me, is what great companies are made of,” Tufton said, adding that the Ministry of Health is ready to collaborate with all stakeholders in the interest of public health.

“We have initiated a number of strategies [and] programmes to encourage preventative health care because we believe it is an area that has been neglected over an extended period of time,” Tufton said. “We will never have the resources to deal with a runaway disease profile because persons do not make choices that are in their best interest, and we will not have the resources to provide adequately the messaging that is required or the programmes that are required, or even the legislation, when it comes to that, that is required, so partnerships in public health are fundamental to a healthy society.

“Today's effort by the National family of promoting a balanced life by making choices that are both within and outside the scope of National's strategic objective as a company is, to my mind, nationalistic and worthy of celebration and encouragement,“ the health minister said.




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