Kingston, November 26, 2019 – Jamaica – Policy Advisor for the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC), Nicole Foster, says that consumers must have easy access to information on the contents of packaged foods, noting that the matter is a human rights issue.
“This is a matter of our right to know, our children’s right to know as well as our right to the highest attainable standard of health and related rights, as guaranteed to us under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and, more broadly, under the International Covenant for Economic Social and Cultural Rights,” she said.
Mrs. Foster noted that Jamaica has ratified both documents. She was speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank on Wednesday (November 20), against the background of a push by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) for easy-to-read front-of-package labelling.
Mrs. Foster, who is an attorney-at-law and a former Consular Officer in the Permanent Mission of Barbados to the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO), said that front-of-package labelling is an important tool for creating the environment that empowers consumers to make better and more informed food choices. She noted that, currently, this kind of labelling is not mandatory in the Caribbean.
“Regionally…we only need to have that nutrition panel if we are making a health claim and that puts us at a significant disadvantage as consumers in terms of making informed and appropriate nutritional choices. This is over and above the difficulties that we have in interpreting the panel when we do have it.
“So, although we know that we have responsibility for what we eat, we need to be in an environment that supports the healthy choice being an easy choice,” she said.
“That is why we say, what’s in our food? Give us the facts” she added, citing a similar campaign by the American Heart Association.
HCC is a coalition of regional organisations working together on non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention and control throughout the Caribbean.
The Government is moving to make front-of-package labelling mandatory in Jamaica, and is working to develop a policy in tandem with the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) has established a committee to review the standard governing food-package labelling, which has generated a draft standard on front-of-package labelling that is to be finalised, following the conclusion of stakeholder discussions now under way.
Contact: Peta-Gay Hodges
Photo Caption: Attorney-at-Law and Policy Advisor for Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC), Nicole Foster,addresses a recent JIS Think Tank on Front-of-Package Labelling.
Photos: Mark Bell