Health Canada ready to unveil newly revamped Canada Food Guide

Desiree Burns
January 26, 2019

Another requirement under SFCR is that food businesses must have preventive controls in place that clearly identify steps that address potential food safety risks, and controls that can trace food products anywhere along the food supply chain.

"This is something that is part of a pattern of eating and drinking so we think that it's very important to have this in the food guide", Hutchinson said.

Last week, the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) went into effect with an official announcement from the Honorable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada's Minister of Health. Gone are the "meat and alternatives" and "dairy and alternatives" labels that suggested animal foods were the superior choice.

In addition, no fewer than 46 lobbyists registered to lobby government on the food guide and had dozens of meetings with representatives of at least 23 government departments, offices or agencies over the a year ago and also met with at least 43 MPs, senators or their senior staffers. In addition, Health Canada recommends eating more nuts or soy protein, which can help improve blood fat levels, while warning that eating processed meat is linked to higher risks of colorectal cancer.

The restaurant industry and some processors have been adjusting to increased demand for plant-based protein for years. Processed and prepared foods that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat should not be consumed regularly, the new guide says, with a special emphasis on the risks associated with alcohol.

Meat enjoyed a dominant position in the previous food guide with a meat and alternatives category and a recommended two to three servings daily for adults depending on their sex and age. Whereas now it's changed and now it's included with other sources of calcium and protein.

"We made that very strong commitment not to be meeting with industry (and) not to be influenced by industry", Hutchinson said. "Quite frankly, we should be focusing on the cakes, the sweets, the sugary drinks", she said.

"What is striking about the new Canada's Food Guide is the shift to a broader approach - talking not only about what Canadians should eat, but also how they should eat", said Nathalie Savoie of the Dietitians of Canada.

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However, Harvie said the beef industry will try to make Canadians understand that not all protein foods are identical.

She wondered if enlisting the food guide more aggressively suggests those gaps are next to be addressed.

On Jan. 22, in its first update in over a decade, Health Canada released the latest update for "healthy eating" and anything dairy was largely absent.

The move away from meat and dairy requirements has won praise from vegetarian and vegan advocates, including Dr David Jenkins, the Canada research chair in nutrition and metabolism and a professor at the University of Toronto.

CPMA and CPHA will continue to support the efforts of the Government of Canada to promote a healthy lifestyle by following the new Canada Food Guide and its available resources.

"We've been trying to raise it as a concern to make people aware about the changes to the food guide, and how it's really affecting the dairy industry by not making it a primary focus of calcium and protein in their diets", he said.

"I have a concern with that because not all protein foods have the same nutritional profiles".

Milk, milk products and meat are instead folded in with other sources of protein, along with the suggestion to "choose plant-based protein more often".

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