Bureau of Standards Jamaica
ST JAMES, Jamaica— The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) is carrying out assessments to determine the food labelling model that will work best for the country, as the Government moves closer to making front of package labelling mandatory in Jamaica.
Senior standards and certification officer at the BSJ, Phillipa O'Connor, said that at least six models are being examined by the entity.
She said that the committee established to review the standard governing food package labelling in Jamaica has generated a draft standard on front of package labelling, which is to be finalised, following the conclusion of stakeholder discussions now underway.
She said that the draft is very far reaching and all key stakeholders, including manufacturers, exporters and the Scientific Research Council, are heavily involved in the process.
O'Conner was speaking at a stakeholder forum dubbed 'Moving Towards Front of Package Nutrition Labelling in Jamaica' hosted by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) at the Hilton Rose Hall, Montego Bay, on Thursday.
The HFJ has been pushing for front of package labelling for food products in order to provide consumers with information to make healthier food choices.
O'Conner said that the Government is working to develop a policy in tandem with the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
She noted that front of package labelling was first presented to local stakeholders on August 16, 2018 and the draft standard was made available for public comment between October 28, 2018 and February 2019.
“We also presented front of package labelling to our stakeholders again in January 2019 and in March, we submitted our national comment on the draft to CROSQ.
“Currently, the draft standard has been amended incorporating the comments we received during the comments period and it has been issued for another round of public enquiry, which will be ending on December 14,” she informed.
O'Connor noted that the long-term goal of the BSJ, through front of package labelling “is that we want to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCD) and obesity.”
“It is just one tool and what it does is it helps consumers to make better and more informed choices. So, we are not saying we are relying on front of package labelling alone; it's one tool of a more holistic approach,” she said.
Attorney-at- law and Healthy Caribbean Coalition Policy advisor, Nicole Foster, in her presentation at the forum, called on CARICOM countries to join forces to push for front of package labelling, and counter any opposition to the move.
She said that a clearly defined policy objective is needed in order to prevent any barriers to inter-regional trade.
The forum was hosted by the HFJ through its Global Health Advocacy Project and was in keeping with the entity's continued efforts to fight obesity and NCDs through mandatory front of package labelling in Jamaica.