Food guide prompts battle over beef and butter

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Friends with Dorothy opens in Victoria.
LGBT2Q+ lounge Friends with Dorothy opens second location in Victoria

The Kelowna-based lounge plans to open in Victoria mid-December

Victoria police were called to a single-vehicle crash shortly before 3 a.m. Nov. 27. (Black Press Media file photo)
Driver dies after fiery early morning crash in Vic West

The driver was the sole occupant of the single-vehicle crash involving a hydro pole

West Shore RCMP arrested four suspects in connection with an armed robbery that occurred in View Royal Nov. 26. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP arrests four following armed robbery

A victim was assaulted and robbed in View Royal early Thursday morning

Oak Bay police are searching for two men caught on camera dumping garbage bags on the side of Brighton Avenue on Nov. 26. (Ray Bernoties/Twitter)
Police seek two men caught dumping bags of trash on Oak Bay street

Garbage left on side of Brighton Avenue could lead to $81 ticket

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

Most Read