Food guide prompts battle over beef and butter

Industry advocates say new guidelines might encourage lower consumption of beef, butter and cheese

Lobby groups for the meat and dairy sectors are up in arms over indications that Canada’s next food guide could discourage the consumption of beef, butter and cheese.

The guide, expected to be released early next year after its first overhaul in a decade, has been instrumental in teaching generations the importance of nutrition and a balanced diet. And while it may not be Health Canada’s intention, it can also serve as a key marketing tool for certain food industries.

Earlier this year, Health Canada published guiding principles and recommendations, one of which promotes eating more protein-rich foods derived from plants.

Isabelle Neiderer, director of nutrition and research with Dairy Farmers of Canada, said she takes that as a sign that the new food guide could lump all protein, including dairy products, into one food group. The current food guide recommends two to four daily servings of milk and alternative products, depending on age and gender.

The elimination of the milk and alternative products category from the food guide would send a message that all proteins are the same and not take into account that milk products contain nutrients vital to human health, such as calcium and potassium, that other protein-rich foods don’t.

“It would be a disservice to the Canadian population and frankly, a recipe for disaster in terms of bone health,” Neiderer said.

Since its introduction in 1942, Canada’s food guide has specifically recommended milk or milk products as part of a healthy diet. For dairy farmers, any walk away from that could threaten an industry that employs more than 220,000 people.

The preliminary recommendations also encourage eating less red meat, instead pointing Canadians to leaner animal cuts and plant-based proteins. The current food guide’s suggests that Canadians should eat one to three servings of meat and alternatives.

The Canadian Meat Council says the proposed recommendations are so general that they aren’t helpful for consumers in choosing what foods to eat, in what quantities and how often.

Jackie Crichton, the council’s director of regulatory affairs, says not everyone needs to eat less meat.

“Anybody who is already consuming foods in the right proportions at the right frequency that result in a balanced diet, if they do read those general statements and were to decide, ‘Oh well, then I have to eat less of that protein,’ what would that impact be on their health?” Crichton said.

Health Canada said while it is encouraging Canadians to consume less red meat and foods high in saturated fat like butter and certain cheeses, it’s not urging they be ruled out altogether from one’s diet.

“We’re not talking necessarily eliminating animal foods altogether, but it is going towards more plant-based,” said Hasan Hutchinson, director general of nutritional policy and programs at Health Canada.

Unlike previous revisions of the food guide, industry doesn’t have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with Health Canada and instead must submit their comments on the guiding principles along with the rest of the general public by Monday, Hutchinson said.

“We have to ensure the development of the guidance is really free from any conflict of interest.”

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Facing reality of death, Surrey man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Mobility commission investigates how to charge Surrey motorists

32 Avenue and 152 Street considered ‘key congestion area’

VIDEO: Double-decker bus pilot in Langley gets rave reviews

The ceiling is a little low, but other than that, everyone seems to be a fan

Emaciated dog brought to Surrey shelter now healthy and up for adoption

Eclipse came into the Surrey Resource Animal Shelter last summer in skeletal, calloused condition

Comic Strippers return to Surrey’s Bell a year after ‘milestone’ show there

‘That was our biggest show ever,’ says Ken Lawson of male-stripper parody/improv-comedy production

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

B.C. out of the running for Amazon’s next headquarters

Toronto is the only Canadian city left in the running despite the province backing Metro Vancouver’s bid for new Amazon headquarters

B.C. hockey player nominated for Hobey Baker Award

Myles Powell is a forward at Rochester Institute of Technology

Post interest rate hike debt tips

What to do about your debt and mortgages after the interest rate hike

Foreign workers sleeping in Alberta Burger King basement

Alberta Health Services said its inspectors found foreign workers sleeping in the basement of the Lethbridge restaurant

Court application halts release of bread price-fixing documents

Bread price-fixing documents won’t be unsealed Thursday, Loblaw says

Bad behavour to lead to expulsion at Abbotsford council

New rules lay out how a member can be booted from a meeting

Pharrell and N.E.R.D to headline NBA All-Star halftime show

11-time Grammy winner Pharrell and his hip hop-rock band N.E.R.D. will headline the halftime show at the 2018 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles

Heritage Minister wants zero tolerance for harassment in entertainment industry

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly had two meetings to discuss harassment in the film, TV and theatre worlds

Most Read