New food labelling requirement for Canadian meat draws criticism from farmers

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long
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Requirements for a new front-of-pack nutrition label to be placed on certain foods in Canada has drawn criticism from farmers, who claim the move unfairly singles out certain meat products.

As per new instructions from Health Canada, food companies and supermarkets will need to label foods which contain 15% of the recommended daily intake of sodium, sugars and saturated fat.

Ground beef and pork meat are among the list of foods in Canada which will require the new nutrition labelling – owing to their high levels of saturated fats.

Canadian health organisations have praised and encouraged the move, which has been in the pipeline since 2016 when the country introduced its Healthy Eating Strategy.

Diabetes Canada Senior Manager Ann Besner called the labelling system a “critical set of regulations” in a comment to the The Globe and Mail newspaper.

Meanwhile Manuel Arango, Director of Health Policy and Advocacy at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada told the paper of the years of consultations and research which have informed the new rules.

However, the country’s meat producers have not had the same positive reaction. Several advocacy groups for Canadian farmers have attacked the new rules.

This would make Canada the only country in the world where a single ingredient product had this warning,” said Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association CEO Ryder Lee in a statement. “It makes it make less and less sense and we think the government and minister of health should reconsider.”

Elsewhere, Meat & Poultry Ontario said on Twitter: “Putting a warning label on ground beef, an affordable nutritious protein, is misleading to consumers.”

Health Canada has said the intent of the new meat labelling system is not to fear-monger, but instead provide consumers with the information they need to make a nutritionally informed decision.

That said, others have noted how the labelling might affect shoppers in the midst of global inflation problems.

“When you think about protein affordability, you’re basically discouraging Canadians from eating products that are still relatively affordable compared to other cuts. You have to wonder whether or not it’s the right time to do this,” said Dalhousie University Food Distribution Professor Sylvain Charlebois to Global News Canada.

This is not the first time that the food industry has been left unimpressed by novel nutritional labelling systems. The European Nutri-Score system has drawn similar ire from food producers across the continent.

When the labelling system announced plans to categorise all alcoholic drinks under the lowest grade of ‘F’, it sparked anger from winemakers in France and Italy. The latter had already launched its own investigation into the Nutri-Score earlier in the year.

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