New Canada food guide has P.E.I. dairy farmers 'very concerned'

The NHS Eatwell Guide

The NHS Eatwell Guide

A document released by Health Canada revealed that most Canadians don't consume enough vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Paule Bernier, president of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec, said while calculating the costs of a plate of vegetables one should also consider the cost of eating badly over the long term, in lost income and productivity, and the cost to the health care system of chronic diseases linked to poor diet, like certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases or diabetes. Policy interventions - including those that educate consumers and shape which foods are readily available - are essential to ensuring the evidence-based food guide recommendations are put into practice. "This is why Canadians need credible healthy-eating information to guide their food choices", Hutchinson said.

After over a decade of no changes whatsoever, Canada's Food Guide has been completely revamped and announced to the public this morning.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said updating the guide was not a responsibility government took lightly.

They insist that two to four serving of milk products daily can help promote bone and muscle health.

Whether it was a suggestion from a list-version "A Pattern For Meals" from 1949 or a colourful quarter of a balanced circle from 1982, milk and milk products, and meat, fish and poultry were always a key part of the Guide.

Nathalie Savoie, CEO, Dietitians of Canada, said: "Dietitians are passionate about the potential of food to enhance lives and improve health".

It also urges consumers to choose water over other beverages, like sugary fruit juice, pop, alcohol or flavoured milk.

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Early indications the guide would promote eating more plant-based protein sparked concern among dairy and beef farmers, who are anxious about the long-term impacts the change in messaging could have on their livelihoods. This prompted concerns from the Canadian Pork Council that the country might interpret the guide as a recommendation to reduce meat consumption in favour of plant-based proteins. It also stripped dairy of its food group, leaving it represented by just a small saucer of yoghurt in the plate diagram. The biggest difference we spotted between this version and its 2007 predecessor was the introduction of a greater emphasis on plant-based proteins and whole grains. "It's not an equal swap-in, swap-out to get the same amount of protein".

In that way, the new food guide is not so much predicting the future, but catching up to it.

Petitpas Taylor said part of the reasoning behind the increased focus on plant-based proteins was a recognition that many Canadians have lifestyles where meat may not be a major part of their diet.

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.

"Not all protein foods have the same nutritional profiles".

Although lean red meat is recommended by the new guide, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association said in a statement, "Health Canada missed an opportunity to inform Canadians on the nutritional benefits of eating lean beef as a protein source. 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.

It's also in line with a broader shift in the food guide's objectives, which now not only suggest what one should eat, but how one should eat - ideally with others, in conjunction with high levels of physical activity for youth and children, and with the awareness that your food choices impact the environment and long-term food supply.

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