Published: Sat, January 26, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

New food guide set to challenge prominence of meat, dairy industries

New food guide set to challenge prominence of meat, dairy industries

Hasan Hutchinson, director-general of nutritional policy and promotion at Health Canada, said: "The guide continues to provide advice on what to eat, but now it also emphasizes that healthy eating is more than the food you eat".

In place of food groups are 24 categories looking at nutrients.

Canadians are also advised to limit their consumption of highly-processed foods and prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugar or saturated fats.

While the federal government's new Food Guide has received mixed reviews from other food producers, its removal of milk as a core part of the Canadian diet has vexed dairy farmers.

Health Canada's 2007 food guide.

Earlier this month, the Dairy Farmers of Canada released a statement warning that the new guide could hurt Canadian farmers, especially after recent trade concessions made to the U.S. during the negotiations of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Dairy has long had a central role in health policies in Canada and other Western cultures.

"I don't think we can all live on fresh food", he said, pointing to the increase in cost for fruit and vegetables during the winter.

"We are privileged to be able to choose among a wide variety of affordable protein sources, but some protein sources, like pork, are more efficient at delivering health benefits", said Canadian Pork Council's nutrition manager Mary Ann Binnie.

Smith says the Food Guide is followed in hospitals, schools and other institutions and it is unfortunate there may be less options available for those consumers.

Health Minister Ginette Petipas Taylor will unveil an overhauled Canada Food Guide in Montreal this morning. Additionally, Health Canada and Indigenous Services Canada are committed to working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to support the development of distinctions-based healthy eating tools, as part of the revision process.

In its first update to the guide since 2007, Health Canada abandoned its rainbow of four food groups in favour of a picture of the ideal plate: half fruits and vegetables, one quarter for protein, one quarter whole grains.

The shift to plant-based proteins doesn't match a solid North American demand for meat, livestock and meat, market analyst Kevin Grier said Tuesday. Jill Harvie, public and stakeholder engagement manager for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, pointed out an image of beef is included on the food guide as an example of a "protein-rich food", along with eggs, nuts and lentils.

But by eschewing processed foods, Graydon said, the guide is jeopardizing its own credibility with the already health-conscious consumer.

In contrast, according to Health Canada, scientists have argued that humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk. She said the industry must do a better job getting its message out.

"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.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University says the big focus is on plant-based sources. "You might have to eat a can, a can and a half of black beans to be able to have the same amount of protein", she said.

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