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Concerns ‘braised’ over Canadian ground beef warning proposal

Proposal for a warning label on ground beef is being grilled by producers and more across Canada.
Where's the beef? Right here.

Health Canada is seeing significant opposition to a proposal to begin putting labels on products containing high levels of saturated fats, sugars, or sodium specifically ground beef and pork - to the point the one provincial Health Minister is noting the decision should be reversed.

Alberta's Health Minister Jason Copping says the decision was made without provincial consultation.

“This decision was made without consultation with the provinces, which have equivalent expertise in nutrition and food science to that of the federal government. It’s inconsistent with the treatment of other products; it’s not good policy, and it should be reversed,” he said.

Many feel the move will stop people from buying the products – while producers are feeling targeted.

Alberta Agriculture Minister Nate Horner says it limits producers’ ability to compete.

“Imposing these warning labels sends a negative message to customers and makes our producers less competitive in the global economy,” Horner said this week, who is also the Minister of Forestry and Rural Economic Development.

 “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,” said the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association last week in a statement.

CCA officials say Canadians consume approximately half of their calories from low nutrient, ultra-processed foods.

The add 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,” said 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.”

Alberta Beef Producers reps say the issue stems back to fall of 2016 when Health Canada launched a then-new Healthy Eating Strategy to help Canadians ‘make the healthier choice and easier choice.’

The add part of the initial strategy was included front-of-package (FOP) labelling on foods high in sodium, sugars, and/or saturated fat.

Alberta Beef Producer editors noted they recently reached out to Health Canada officials

“To join us on The Bovine (program) in answering a list of supplied questions. Health Canada responded saying they ‘do not have an expert to provide for an interview on this issue at this time’.”