Tufton gives details of sugar limit on school beverages

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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Dr Christopher Tufton yesterday informed the House of Representatives of Cabinet's approved interim guidelines for sugar levels in beverages served to schoolchildren.

The guidelines project a reduction in terms of a single gram of sugar per 100 millimetre servings from six grams starting in January 2019, to 2.5 grams per 100 millimetre in 2023 as follows: 6 grams per 100 millimetre as of January 1, 2019; five grams per 100 millimetre serving, as of January 1, 2020; four grams per 100 millimetre serving as of January 1, 2020; and 2.5 grams per 100 millimetre starting January 1, 2023.

They will affect the serving of drinks to children, from zero to 18 years old, attending early childhood, primary, and secondary educational institutions, as well as people, companies and groups involved in the provision of these beverages to the institutions including, but not limited to school canteens, concessionaires, vendors, teachers, school administrators and students.

Tufton, the health minister, explained that beverages brought from home by the students are not being regulated at this time. However, he pointed out that a “robust” educational campaign will be launched to discourage the provisions of sugary beverages to children.

He said that his ministry would rely on “moral suasion” to discourage the use of beverages beyond the limits in the institutions.

The rules will be applicable in public schools, during school hours, and during special school activities, Tufton said, adding that his ministry would also seek to sensitise both parents and vendors to the need to ensure the long-term sustainability of the initiative.

“We cannot stand idly by and allow our children to continue to eat and drink themselves sick,” Dr Tufton told the House.

He said that it was for this reason that the Government has established the National Food Industry Taskforce, which takes account of food labelling, marketing and product reformulation, in addition to advocacy and communication, as part of efforts to create an environment for healthy food consumption, while reducing the influence of marketing on healthy food choices.

He said that the guidelines resulted from collaboration between his ministry, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, as well as civil society and the private sector, with which consultations were made over many months.

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