The proposal for a ground beef warning label is being grilled by producers and more across Canada.
Health Canada is seeing significant opposition to a proposal to begin labeling products with high levels of saturated fat, sugars or sodium, particularly ground beef and pork – to the point that the only provincial Minister of Health notes that the decision should be reversed.
Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping says the decision was made without provincial consultation.
“This decision was made without consultation with the provinces, which have expertise in nutrition and food science equivalent to that of the federal government. It is incompatible with the processing of other products; it is not a good policy and it should be reversed,” he said.
Many believe the move will keep people from buying the products – while producers feel targeted.
Alberta Agriculture Minister Nate Horner says this limits producers’ ability to compete.
“Imposing these warning labels sends a negative message to customers and makes our producers less competitive in the global economy,” said Horner, who is also Minister of Forestry and Rural Economic Development, this week.
“The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) strongly urges Health Canada to exempt all grades of ground beef from front-of-package (FOP) regulations. Canadians should feel confident that the ground beef they love continues to be an accessible and nutritious choice,” the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said in a statement last week.
CCA officials say Canadians consume about half of their calories from ultra-processed foods that are low in nutrients.
In contrast, ground beef is a nutrient-dense protein that provides iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Front labeling of single-ingredient whole foods stands in stark contrast to the fundamentals of healthy eating and will distract from the real priority: Canadians need to reduce their consumption of ultra-processed foods.
“Canadian farmers and ranchers produce high quality, delicious and nutritious beef,” said CCA President Reg Schellenberg. “We strongly oppose Health Canada’s proposed regulations and believe they send the wrong message to Canadians about whole, single-ingredient foods.
Representatives from the Alberta Beef Producers say the problem dates back to the fall of 2016, when Health Canada launched a new healthy eating strategy to help Canadians “make healthier, easier choices.”
The additional part of the original strategy included front-of-package (FOP) labeling on foods high in sodium, sugars and/or saturated fat.
Alberta Beef Producer editors said they recently contacted Health Canada officials
“To join us on The Bovine (programme) by answering a list of questions provided. Health Canada responded that it “does not have an expert to provide for an interview on this issue at this time.”