Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Drink manufacturers cutting back on sugar, says minister

Published:Thursday | November 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Christopher Tufton (right), minister of health, chats with Major Desmond Brown (left), a member of the Lions Club of Kingston, during the club’s weekly luncheon held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, yesterday.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says that he is pleased with the level of cooperation being shown by manufacturers who are putting plans in place to comply with the January deadline to reduce the sugar content in beverages sold to schools and hospitals.

Tufton was speaking to The Gleaner yesterday at a Lions Club of Kingston meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

The health minister indicated that the ban on sugary drinks in schools and hospitals was to take effect from January. He noted, however, that there were too many complaints that the ban was given on short notice.

"I know that they are doing a lot of work behind the scenes in terms of reformulation. I anticipate that by January, we will see reformulated products on the market. We think that this is good because it would mean that government policy has worked.

"The programme is coming on. What we are doing now is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education because it is a joint approach. We are working with the manufacturers as they produce the products. We continue to talk to them about the policy and what will happen," Tufton said.


Appeal to parents


The minister made a special appeal to parents, who may still want to load their children's lunch kits with sugary drinks.

"Ultimately, we cannot ban people from consuming a particular product, but we can restrict the environments those products are available in. Parents are important because they need to know what they are packing in the lunch kits. We are trying to use moral suasion to encourage them based on linking sugary drinks to obesity as well as provide better information based on labelling requirements, and so on."