Alberta livestock producer associations have requested an exemption from proposed federal labelling requirements for ground beef and pork.
This exemption is similar to ones offered for other nutritious, single-ingredient foods like milk, eggs, vegetables and other meats, said Nate Horner, Alberta’s minister of agriculture, forestry and rural economic development.
“Alberta’s government supports this exemption,” said Horner.
“Ground meat, like other whole foods, is a healthy and affordable staple in the diet of many Canadians. Ottawa’s scientifically baseless labelling proposal for ground meat will unfairly affect families struggling with high costs of living and would be an extra kick to producers already working to get back on their feet.”
According to the Health Canada website, the goal of requiring packaged ground meat to be sold with a health warning is to provide consumers with quick and easy nutrition information and encourage them to make healthier choices, and also to encourage food manufacturers to make healthier products.
The package labels would be applied to most foods that exceed 15 per cent of an adult’s recommended daily intake of sodium, sugar or saturated fat. But some foods that are naturally high in sugar, such as unsweetened fruit, will be exempt from the labelling requirement, while dairy and eggs — though high in saturated fat — will also be exempt.
Horner said Alberta’s livestock producers drive economic growth by “feeding the world with high-quality meat.”
“Imposing these warning labels sends a negative message to customers and makes our producers less competitive in the global economy,” said Horner.
“We are working closely with the Alberta Beef Producers, the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association and Alberta Pork to support these industries. Alberta’s government has expressed our concern to our federal counterparts and will continue to stand up for livestock producers in our province.”
Jason Copping, minister of health, said “a healthy diet emphasizing whole foods” is part of the foundation of overall health.
“Ground beef and pork are whole foods, rich in nutrients and still relatively affordable despite global increases in food prices,” said Copping.
“This decision was made without consultation with the provinces, which have equivalent expertise in nutrition and food science to that of the federal government. It’s inconsistent with the treatment of other products; it’s not good policy, and it should be reversed.”
—With files from The Canadian Press