Source: Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is strongly urging Health Canada to exempt all classes 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.
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 FOP labelling like other nutritious foods, such as single ingredient meat, milk, eggs, vegetables, and fruit. We are asking for a policy that is equitable.
Canadians consume approximately half of their calories from low nutrient, ultra-processed foods. By contrast, ground beef is a nutrient-dense protein that contributes iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. FOP labelling of whole, single-ingredient foods starkly contrast with the foundational principles 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,” states Reg Schellenberg, CCA President. “We strongly oppose Health Canada’s proposed regulations and believe they send the wrong message to Canadians about whole, single ingredient foods.”
The CCA 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.
The signals the Government of Canada provides 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 nutritional case to do so is not supported by research. In addition to the negative nutritional impact this warning label poses, we are also concerned about other consequences of FOP, given that inflation and food prices are at an all-time high.
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. To our knowledge, Canada will be the only jurisdiction in the world placing a health warning label on its ground beef.