Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George also attended the seminar and expressed his view on the food labelling standard.
BNSI proposes introduction of front-of-pack labelling standard
The Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) hosted a national consultation recently to get feedback from consumers on a new, compulsory standard they sought to introduce.
Fabian Scott, Chief Technical Officer at the BNSI, explained that they were seeking to update the current requirements for the food labelling standard.
“One of the main objectives is to inform industries and consumers of the major change in the standard which we are proposing to be a front of pack labelling. Traditionally, you would have the nutritional panel at the back and what you find is that persons would not really pay attention to turn the product around to the nutrient table; however the proposed front of pack model that we’re talking about will have the label on the front of the package and would indicate whether there are high levels of sugar, salt and fat. This is to address the high incidences of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that we have in our country,” he said.
“The previous standard was implemented in 2004 – the label of repackaged food. It is a good standard and serves the purpose for which it has been used and it is still relevant to the market today, the only change that we are talking about is the front of pack labelling, everything else remains the same,” he added.
He explained that this gave the consumer more information, which would allow them to make informed decisions concerning their health.
He revealed that Tuesday night’s audience was a mix of individual consumers, independent medical doctors, small businesses and distributors.
Scott stated that their next step was to gather the comments made by the consumers and compile them.
He clarified that this standard was being introduced CARICOM wide, as the other 14 member states would be involved in the process as well, as they were seeking to develop one standard in CARICOM.
“So we’re seeking to develop one standard in CARICOM and the purpose of this is to facilitate trade; because if you could have your product meeting one particular standard, then it is easy to export to another particular country since standards are all the same.”
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George believed that the standard was a step in the right direction for Barbados.
“This is just an added tool; it has four boxes which indicate high in salt, sugar, saturated fats and fats. It is just moving Barbados on a good way forward and we would love for the Ministry, manufacturers and the distributors to come on board. It is about being very progressive and getting to a place where several countries have gone to,” he said.