The New Canadian Food Guide Is Up For Sale

It’s been a decade since the Canadian Food Guide has gotten a facelift! Even with all the “major” changes being touted by Health Canada, the truth is that you’re still better off never having seen the Food Guide. The reality is that there have been many major news reports underlying the general upheaval of industry officials lobbying other federal government departments over the revisions. 

According to CBC News, a few industry’s fears were outlined in a report by the federal agricultural committee, entitled A Food Policy for Canada. “They worry that the revised version of the guide will favour one food group over another, including vegetable-based sources of protein over animal-based ones. The Canadian National Millers Association is concerned that the new food guide may encourage consumers to give up enriched white bread, hamburger and hot dog buns, and other bakery products made with enriched flour.”

Making headlines recently has also been the threatening effect of these changes on the future of national cattle and dairy farmers. In response to the rumoured lowered recommended daily intake of dairy and meat products, Tom Lynch-Staunton, a rancher and the government relations manager with Alberta Beef Producers, stated that “we don’t want people to be misled thinking they’re getting the equivalent amount of nutrients… Let’s say you’re eating lentils versus a piece of beef… we know the iron in the lentils will be harder to absorbs and you won’t be getting essential nutrients.” Notice how there's nothing in the various industries' feedback about wanting to save Canadians from heart disease, diabetes, or cancer... just a concern that the meat, dairy and junk food industries might lose billions in revenue. Aside from these observations and amidst the government's semblance of support or care for plant-food producers, especially with their new focus on environmental sustainability and animal welfare... is that unfortunate reality that the Canadian Food Guide will continue to remain a marketing promotion.  

It’s no lie that healthful changes are being endorsed with the latest revision of the Canadian Food Guide, but even with these positive changes, does the new guide still have any credibility? Any doubts I originally had when headlines first started to appear about the new and improved Food Guide, where confirmed when I read that in response to flags raised by various Canadian agricultural industries, the federal agricultural committee in charge of revamping the Food Guide has officially stated that “...the government work with agriculture and agri-food sector to ensure alignment and competitiveness for domestic industries.” So, it seems that Canada’s official guidance on a healthy diet will continue to be politicized and funded by the effects and profits of the country’s food industry. We can expect Canadian food industries to put in some big dollars to retain federal endorsements of their products. Ultimately, I think well-renowned food historian Ian Mosby put the nail in the coffin when he stated that, “if the food guide does a good job, certains industries will be upset.” 


Sources: 1, 2