Tue | Jan 15, 2019

LASCO cuts back on sugar - Manufacturer slashes sugar content by 50%, health minister has sweet smile

Published:Thursday | March 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Lascelles Chin
Dr Christopher Tufton

A threat to impose a tax on manufacturers involved in producing beverages might have been averted yesterday following the revelation that one of the country's largest drink manufacturers has responded to a plea from the Government to reduce the amount of sugar in its products.

LASCO has led the way by announcing a 50 per cent reduction of sugar in its flagship brands. LASCO Chairman Lascelles Chin said he is not about fighting with the Government but is "here to support the move towards a healthier Jamaica".

Chin was speaking during a press conference at the company's Central Village headquarters in St Catherine, where there was a relaunch of products made by the company.

Among the changes, LASCO Food Drink will now have a low-sugar option, with 50 per cent less sugar. According to the label, the popular food drink will now have only 11 grams of sugar per serving.

Reacting to the announcement, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said LASCO "has responded to the need to reduce sugar content in a range of their products.

"Las Chin and his team have got it. They recognise the role they play in the choices people make - affordable option and now low-sugar option," Tufton said, lauding the move by the manufacturing giant.

"It is good business to demonstrate [that you] care about your customers, who support your products. This demonstrates that you are listening and responding to your consumers," the health minister added.

A survey among Jamaicans shows that nearly two-thirds of adults have concerns about the effect of consuming sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks on their own health. Approximately eight in 10 shared the sentiment for their children.

"Life is about balance, and we have never said that if you consume sugar at all, it is bad for you. What we have said is, watch what you eat and drink - balance your consumption," Tufton clarified.

The Government has been pushing for manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their products to help with the prevention of some non-communicable diseases.

As part of the initiative, Tufton has led the Jamaica Moves campaign aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles among Jamaicans.