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CARICOM Consultant for Chronic Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Alafia Samuels, speaking during yesterday’s regional press briefing.

 
   

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Increase healthy choices

9/4/2009

CNCD expert says Subway should come

By Nicholas Cox

The entry of the Subway sandwich franchise should be welcomed into the local market as it would provide healthier options than those offered at the traditional fast food outlets.

“We need to have healthy fast food options in all the countries of the Caribbean, and so those fast food chains that specialise in healthy foods should be welcomed with open arms,” said CARICOM Consultant for Chronic Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Alafia Samuels.

She stressed that the Caribbean diet was in need of more healthy fast foods, vegetarian dishes in schools and workplace cafeterias, less salt, and no deep-fried foods of any kind.

Acknowledging the opposition to the entry of Subway into Barbados by the KFC chain, Chefette, and Pizza Man Doc, Samuels said while there was resistance, “we need to make every effort to get healthy fast food to be part of our societies”.

She noted that fast food was convenient, and with families being busier than ever before it was important to have options. However, “the question is the quality of the fast food; traditionally fast food has been deep fat fried, with a lot of salt, trans fat, and not good. But there are alternatives, there is such a thing as healthy fast food”.

She cited Subway as one chain where one could get excellent healthy fast food.

Moreover, she believed that there was opposition by the other fast food outlets to the entry of Subway because of the appeal of its healthy offerings and not because of unfair competition.

Samuels, who spoke to the Press during a regional launch of Caribbean Wellness Day at the CSME Unit in the Tom Adams Financial Centre yesterday morning, stressed the importance of choice, noting that people needed a better range of choices. She cited as an example the introduction of grilled chicken at the KFC chains in the United States.

“We need Kentucky grilled chicken in the Caribbean, we need baked French fries instead of fried French fries; we need choices, we need vegetarian dishes produced by fast food chains, we need less salt,” she urged.

Samuels added that it was time for the Caribbean consumer to advocate for healthier choices, as the marketplace would respond to the demand. Noting that competition would benefit the consumer, she said this was what capitalism was all about as it would help bring down prices. “We should allow people to compete in the free market. And if someone has a product that the consumer prefers, then it is the correct thing to do to give the consumer choice,” she stressed.

Senior Health Promotion Officer (Ag) at the Ministry of Health, Larone Hyland, noted that the health sector recognised the need for easy, healthy choices, because people had less time to cook. She promoted dialogue between the fast food outlets and stakeholders, and said this has already led to the addition of some healthy foods to their menus.

In addition, Hyland revealed that the Chronic Disease Commission was developing a comprehensive programme aimed at improving dietary intake across the country and said this would be a major upcoming programme.

“Conversations and dialogue with fast food, and all food producers in Barbados, as well as the general public is definitely on the cards for that programme,” she revealed.

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