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Health Ministry warns food industry on sugar content in beverages

Following the instructions of Director General of Health Services, Dr P. G. Mahipala, the Food Unit of the Health Ministry, has directed all Public Health Inspectors ( PHI's) in its 340 Ministry of Health areas to immediately advise cafes, restaurants and hotel owners to stop serving customers sugar laden coffee and tea.

"The recent surge in non communicable disease, especially diabetes, is mostly due to excessive sugar consumption. Hence, to encourage healthy habits, we have sent circulars and guidelines to eateries islandwide to serve sugar separately so they can make their own choice," Director, Food Unit, Dr HDB Herath told the Sunday Observer.

He said the circular was not a regulation but a directive to encourage food outlets to provide customers with a healthy choice. "Our PHI's will visit food outlets in their respective areas to ensure instructions are carried out. We expect every food outlet to follow these instructions. If they don't comply after repeated requests by our PHI's our authorized officers can take action to prosecute them after a final warning, within 24 hours," he said.

According to him, the Food Unit was also in the process of amending regulations regarding advertisements on sugary foods, and labelling of sugar levels in ready made food products. "As a member of the World Trade Organisation we have sent these revised regulations for observations of the WTO. Thereafter manufacturers will be given a grace period of one year to get their labels ready. After that time limit offenders will be prosecuted", he said.

Complaints regarding this issue can be made to the food Unit: Tel 2694310 or 2694311

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