Big Dairy Concerned As Canada Proposes Food Warning Labels

Dairy farmers anticipate a reduction in sales
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

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'.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Emily Court is a passionate ethical vegan from Eastern Canada. She is a Challenge 22 Mentor, Digital Writer, and experienced animal advocate driven by issues of animal liberation and social justice. She studied at Dalhousie University, where her thesis highlighted intercultural and gender relations. She is an established public speaker, writer, and world traveller with a drive to provide a voice to those who might not otherwise have one. You can follow her on Instagram @emily.j.court or on Twitter @_EmilyJCourt_.

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