New food guide set to challenge prominence of meat, dairy industries


According to Dr Hasan Hutchinson, director general of Health Canada's office of nutrition policy and promotion, "We were very clear that when we were looking at the evidence base that we were not going to be using reports that have been funded by industry as well". It instead creates a foundation for healthy eating and food skills, with updated guidance on saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

Many Canadians may remember seeing previous Food Guide images in kitchens and classrooms around the country.

Dairy has been scaled back and is now lumped in with other proteins and fruit juice is no longer in the food guide.

Earlier this month, the Dairy Farmers of Canada released a statement warning that the new guide could hurt Canadian farmers, especially after recent trade concessions made to the USA during the negotiations of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told CTV's Your Morning Wednesday that significant thought went into determining the specific foods and proportions that appear in the picture. Many Canadians do drink exceedingly large amounts of sugary beverages, which is another reason why the new guide is attempting to shift towards healthier recommendations. "It would be unfortunate if Canadians interpret this bias toward plant-based proteins as a signal to remove red meat from their diets".

Smith says the Food Guide is followed in hospitals, schools and other institutions and it is unfortunate there may be less options available for those consumers.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada advocacy group has taken issue with the removal of milk and alternatives as a food group and the government's overall softening stance on milk as a recommended beverage.

Instead of portion sizes, the new guide offers a plate: Half is covered with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with protein and one quarter with whole grains like rice, pasta or quinoa. Whereas now it's changed and now it's included with other sources of calcium and protein.

Lemon said beef has an unfair reputation, due partly to concerns around the amount of fat in red meat, but that it's still an important source of protein for Manitobans.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture said while "it is unfortunate that the revised Food Guide does not specifically promote Canadian agri-food", at least the food it recommends "are all agri-food products that Canadian farmers grow and produce daily".

The move away from meat and dairy requirements has won praise from vegetarian and vegan advocates, including Dr David Jenkins, the Canada research chair in nutrition and metabolism and a professor at the University of Toronto.

"I see the food guide as a challenge for many industries".

On Jan. 22, in its first update in over a decade, Health Canada released the latest update for "healthy eating" and anything dairy was largely absent.

"We made that very strong commitment not to be meeting with industry (and) not to be influenced by industry", Hutchinson said. He said healthy eating and living is a good message to send to Canadians.

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.

"I have a concern with that because not all protein foods have the same nutritional profiles".