Growing Support for Front of Package Warning Labels on Packaged Foods

by HCC

Hundreds of Caribbean Health Professionals, Regional Organisations Support Front of Package Warning Labels for Packaged FoodsHundreds of Caribbean Health Professionals, Regional Organisations Support Front of Package Warning Labels for Packaged Foods

Significant numbers of regional organisations, academics, researchers, and health practitioners have voiced support for CARICOM’s adoption of a front of package warning label standard ahead of the May 31st voting deadline.

On May 21st a Healthy Caribbean Coalition press release detailing the growing support across the region for the introduction of octagonal front of package warning labels (FOPWL).

The full press release can be found here.

Show your support for front-of-package warning labels here.

300 Caribbean health professionals and over 40 regional organisations have publicly voiced support for octagonal front of package warning labels to help consumers across the region protect their health. The health professionals and organisations are signatories to a month-long campaign, spearheaded by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC), to demonstrate national and regional support for octagonal front of package warning labels. This campaign comes as key stakeholders in CARICOM countries vote on whether Caribbean consumers will benefit from the introduction of octagonal shaped nutrition warning labels on the front of packaged foods.

Voting is currently underway across CARICOM on the adoption of the Final Draft CARICOM Regional Standard (FDCRS) which contains specifications for octagonal front of package warning labels (FOPWL) to be placed on food products  “High in” sugars, sodium and fats, according to thresholds outlined by the PAHO Nutrient Profile Model. These nutrients are of great public health concern as excess consumption is linked to obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs); which are a significant burden to the people and economy of the Caribbean. Voting on the standard ends on May 31, 2021.

The HCC campaign, supported by partners such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has seen 300 individuals and 43 groups from across academia, the health sector and research putting their signatures to a statement of support for FOPWL.

The drum beat of support for the rights of Caribbean consumers to know what is in their food is growing. Never before have we seen anything like this Caribbean citizenry represented by over 40 regional and national organisations such as the Rotary District 7030, the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), Caribbean Association of Nutritionists and Dieticians (CANDi), Caribbean Association of Pharmacists, Faculty of Medical Sciences-UWI St. Augustine Campus, UWI Faculty of Law, Cave Hill Campus, The Caribbean Centre for Health Systems Research and Development – and over 300 public health practitioners have all united in just a few weeks in support of CARICOM moving ahead swiftly towards the introduction of octagonal front of package warning labels as a key evidence-based measure to tackle obesity and NCDs in the Caribbean.
President of the HCC, Sir Trevor Hassell

The burden of obesity and NCDs is largely driven by our unhealthy diets which are dominated by processed and ultra-processed foods which contain high sugars, fats and sodium. People living with NCDs (PLWNCDs) and obesity are more susceptible to severe COVID-19 infection, our countries can and must do better. In building back better and fairer from the pandemic, it is imperative to invest in evidence-based policies and programmes aimed at preventing and treating obesity and NCDs such as FOPWL
Dr. Karen Sealey, Member of the HCC Board of Directors and founder and Director of the Trinidad and Tobago NCD Alliance

This study validates the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) proposal to use the octagonal warnings on food and drink products throughout the Caribbean,”
Dr. Anselm Hennis, Director of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at PAHO

What is good for health is good for business.  Use of warning labels ultimately presents an opportunity for the regional food and beverage industry to reformulate and to develop and expand healthy product options to meet increasing consumer demand and contribute to healthier food environments,”
Mr. David Neilands, former regional food industry executive

The full press release can be found here.

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