Opinion – CARICOM’s front-of-package labelling conundrum

It has been four years since the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) began discussions on the adoption of a front-of-package labelling system to protect population health in the region. As a public- and global-health lawyer, I can confidently characterise this process as one that has only legitimised and prioritised the interests of private actors to the detriment of society.

For starters, the private sector has recently secured a privileged seat and further strengthened its power with the designation of the Caribbean Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) as an Associate Institution of CARICOM. This has, of course, facilitated corporate capture by giving them high-level policymaker access to lobby and delay the process of the adoption of a front-of-package nutrition labelling system. This additional avenue of participation, which is not available to other interested parties, such as regional civil society organisations, has fostered an unequal power imbalance that challenges the foundations of democracy and is at odds with public health policymaking best practices.