Source: Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
Health Canada is proposing regulations which would require ground beef sold at retail to carry a “high in” saturated fat warning label. Ground beef should be exempt from Health Canada’s proposed front-of-package (FOP) labelling like other nutritious foods, such as single ingredient meat, milk, eggs, vegetables, and fruit.
Canadians consume approximately half of their calories from nutrient-poor ultra-processed foods. By contrast, ground beef is a nutrient-dense protein that contributes iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and other essential nutrients. FOP labelling of whole, single-ingredient foods contradicts the foundational principles of healthy eating and will distract from the real priority, Canadians need to reduce their consumption of ultra-processed foods.
“Farmers and ranchers produce a high-quality, accessible, affordable, and nutritious protein,” states Reg Schellenberg, President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). “It is a food source that Canadians rely on to feed their families. Health Canada is not sending the right message to consumers.”
The signals the Government of Canada provides to its consumers regarding healthy food choices will only be more important as Canadians rebound from a pandemic and navigate legitimate fears regarding food security. Now is not the time to vilify a single-ingredient and readily available food product; especially where the facts do not support it. In addition to the negative nutritional impact, we are concerned about the consequences of FOP, given that inflation and food prices are at an all-time high and food security is a global priority.
We recently shared new evidence with Health Canada which suggests that reductions in ground beef and ground pork consumption will make a nominal impact, at best, on Canadians’ overall intake of saturated fat, while at the same time putting vulnerable populations (including women and children) at risk of increasingly inadequate iron intakes. Further, recent analyses show that ground meat is a small contributor to the overall saturated fat Canadians are consuming.
Other countries that have implemented FOP regulations have chosen to exempt all single ingredient whole foods, based on their nutritious value, including ground beef. Health Canada is doing the opposite. Canada will be the only jurisdiction in the world placing a health warning label on its ground beef. We are concerned with the potential trade implications. Approximately 50 per cent of Canada’s beef is destined for export markets; a warning symbol is not a positive message to send to our trading partners.
CCA is strongly urging Health Canada to exempt all classes of ground beef from FOP regulations. We need to ensure Canadians continue to have access to affordable, accessible and whole nutritious foods, like ground beef.