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Heart and Stroke Foundation fully on board with warning label campaign


Heart and Stroke Foundation fully on board with warning label campaign
Michelle Daniel (GP)

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The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados (HSF) said it was one of 16 local organisations that have signed on to the campaign that will determined whether Caribbean consumers will benefit from the introduction of octagonal-shaped nutrition warning labels on the front of packaged foods.

The HSF said about 300 regional organisations, academics, researchers and health practitioners have so far voiced their support for CARICOM’s adoption of the front of package warning label standard ahead of the May 31 voting deadline.

“The burden of obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is largely driven by our unhealthy diets, which are dominated by processed and ultra-processed foods (that) contain high sugars, fats and sodium,” HSF chief executive officer Michelle Daniel said.

“People living with NCDs, 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 front-of-package warning labels.”

With just about two weeks left until the CARICOM voting deadline, organisations and professionals across the region are sending a strong message to CARICOM that it is time to deliver on commitments made by our leaders since the 2007 Port of Spain Declaration to prioritise the prevention of NCDs through strong policies.

“We are proud to stand in support of this strong and effective policy to combat the alarming NCD rates in Barbados and the wider Caribbean,” he said.

“Octagonal front-of-package warning labels are an important part of a comprehensive NCD strategy to protect the health and wealth of all our people – regardless of age, socio-economic status, literacy level and native language. We urge decision makers to act now to make this a reality.”

Voting has started across CARICOM on the adoption of the Final Draft CARICOM Regional Standard (FDCRS), which contains specifications for octagonal front-of-package warning labels 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 NCDs, which are a significant burden to the people and economy of the Caribbean.