Dairy cows rest at a farm in Eastern Ontario on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. 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 CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canada’s next food guide opens up industry battle over beef and butter

VANCOUVER — 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.”

Just Posted

Unemployment rate and EI beneficiaries down in Central Alberta

The unemployment rate for Red Deer region and the number of people… Continue reading

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month