Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw.
Considerable interest and discussion have emanated in recent months on the matter of Front of Package Labelling (FOPL) in Jamaica. The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC) wishes to place publicly on record that we understand its importance and are in full support of the introduction of Front of Package Labelling in Jamaica.
The Ministry recognizes the negative effects of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on the health of the Jamaican population, the importance of diet and lifestyle changes in combatting NCDs and the role that FOPL can play in better consumer choice in relation to food purchase and consumption. The Ministry in addition contends that it is necessary to ensure that we balance the health concerns and realities related to food consumption with the need to allow for trade to be conducted freely especially with our major trading partners to ensure competitiveness, the best prices for consumers and to reduce the complexities in trade.
The current debate relates to the use of the High-In” Octagon Model”, a model in effect in Chile and other countries in Central and South America as the single front of package labelling option in the CARICOM standard, currently being developed by the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ). The MIIC’s position has been that other front of package labelling models should also be included in the CARICOM standard. The Ministry’s position is based on the fact that Jamaica’s primary trading partners (USA, CAN and UK) utilize other front of package labelling models such as the Multiple Traffic Light System, Facts Up Front System and GDA Color Coded Model, and the choice of models has implications for our business community, and particularly manufacturers and importers and ultimately the products and cost of products available to the Jamaican consumers.
The front of package labelling standard agreed to be implemented in Jamaica must be fully supported by a robust public education and sensitization programme to inform the general populace on the standard. The timing of the introduction of the FOPL requirements is also critical. The economy remains fragile as the country seeks to recover from the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic. We therefore need to ensure that we do not disrupt any economic stability and gains which may be emerging.
The MIIC believes that ultimately the country must agree on front of package labelling that is suitable for Jamaica and is both effective in building consumer awareness and in helping consumers to make healthier food choices while also balancing contending priorities. The Ministry is committed to working with all stakeholders to achieve this objective.
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The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is described as Jamaica's "Business Ministry." It's mandate is to lead the development of policies that will create growth and jobs, while achieving social inclusion and consumer protection. The Ministry, working its stakeholders is primarily responsible for business policy development, monitoring and evaluation, while giving direction and oversight to a cluster of implementing departments and agencies.
We have, therefore, placed much energy and enthusiasm into the development of this website to provide timely information on the Ministry, our agencies and programmes.