Big Dairy Concerned As Canada Proposes Food Warning Labels

Dairy farmers anticipate a reduction in sales
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Health Canada has already moved away from recommending dairy for optimum health

Health Canada has already moved away from recommending dairy for optimum health

Health
Canada - the governmental organization responsible for the nation's Food Guide -
has concerned dairy farmers with a proposal to put warning labels on health-inhibiting
foods.

Proposal

The
proposed labels would apply to foods high in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium due to the risk they pose to
consumer health.

Dairy
farmers are concerned that a number of dairy products would fall into this
category, and be marked with warnings that could deter consumers from buying
their products.

Concerns

These worries
were brought to light at Health Canada consultations in February by David Wiens
of Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (DFM).

The DFM
Chair said
he's concerned the dairy industry could lose upwards of $800 million
in sales if the proposal goes through.

He
added: "Our concern is that many Canadians would actually put that product back
down if they see a warning label on it. So it would impact our markets domestically."

Informed
choices

Enabling consumers to make informed choices is
precisely the aim with the endeavour.

Health
Canada research shows residents are consuming too much saturated fat and sodium,
both of which appear in high quantities in a number of dairy products,
especially cheese.

Canada's
Minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor said: "Identifying foods that are
high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat is not always easy, and this
front-of-package symbol will make it clearer while shopping for groceries."

Many dairy products are shown to include high levels of saturated fat

Many dairy products are shown to include high levels of saturated fat

Nutrients in dairy

Weins argued, however, that warning
Canadian’s about the health-impairing ingredients in milk products would be a
case of oversimplification.

He said: "It's a rather simplistic way
and what they’re doing then is they’re ignoring the level of essential
nutrients that these nutrient-dense foods that are dairy contain, because
they’re simply focused on those bottom three."

Plant alternatives

While Weins did not cite any specific nutrients,
dairy products are often touted for their calcium and protein content.

However, all three are found in high
quantities in a variety of plant foods - in the absence of high levels of saturated fat and sodium.

Dairy has also been promoted
historically through claims that it improves bone health, and prevents osteoporosis,
while recent studies have revealed that quite the opposite is true.

Support

With the Canada Food Guide’s recent
shift away from recommending dairy as essential or helpful for human health, it
is clear that many medical and dietary professionals don’t see eye-to-eye with
Weins, and other dairy industry representatives.

In fact, the President of the Canadian
Medical Association, Dr. Laurent Marcoux described the proposed system as 'a
step towards enabling all Canadians to make the healthy choice, the easy choice'.