MAJ and Tru-Juice working together for a healthier Jamaica
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Eight years after it first endorsed Tru-Juice's natural fruit juices, the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) is describing the arrangement as a win-win situation.
Under the then leadership of Dr John Hall, the MAJ took the unprecedented move of endorsing a product at the time that Tru-Juice was rolling out its 'no sugar added' campaign.
"The basis was that they were doing their bit in the war against diabetes and to help in the whole business of proper nutrition and so on, and also because it was an interesting way of getting the entire organisation to do the endorsement rather than the age-old method of asking individuals to do so," recalls current MAJ President Dr Aggrey Irons.
"It was a national endorsement by a national body for a national product that promotes national health."
Before and during negotiations with the MAJ, Tru-Juice sent all of its 'no sugar added' products, along with certified copies of nutrition facts, to the Tropical Medicine Research Institute at the University of the West Indies.
In subsequent years, each new product added to this line has been sent for testing. This, Dr Irons explained, is for the benefit of consumers.
"The benefit is in regards to the no-sugar-added component in that it is not that the products do not have sugar, but they have complex sugars which can help precipitate diabetes and obesity because people are often tempted to have the juice rather than eat the fruit. So the fact that there is no sugar added is the benefit we endorse," he said.
The MAJ also benefited from the arrangement in that it was able to raise much-needed funding for its programmes and has encouraged other companies to pursue similar agreements.
"The whole thing was that, in exchange for the endorsement, we would get a small grant towards our educational projects, towards the association's dissemination of information, and so on, because we are in an economy where fund-raising is a very difficult thing and this is one area that could help us in our drive to disseminate information and help promote our conferences, all of which are very expensive," said Dr Irons.