“Ideological activism” driving revamp of the Canada Food Guide, says Conservative shadow minister

Health Canada is in the process of revamping the Canada Food Guide, with an emphasis on encouraging Canadians to eat more vegetables and plant-based protein, potentially at the expense of dairy and meat consumption.

The government has come under criticism for not seeking input from the agriculture and agri-food sector, as no witnesses from the agriculture sector spoke during the House health committee study of the Food Guide changes.

The Conservatives have also asked the agriculture committee to study the proposed changes, and to specifically hear from farmers and people involved in producing food.

John Barlow, Conservative MP and shadow minister for agriculture, says after speaking with doctors and dietitians, he’s concerned by the direction that Health Canada is headed.

“They’re going to be giving bad advice on data based on bad science. There’s an ideological activism in Health Canada that is driving these decisions,” says Barlow.

The changes are based on “environmental activism that raising livestock and processing livestock is bad for the environment,” he says, in the interview below, joining RealAg Radio on Wednesday.

Barlow also expressed concern in the House of Commons this week about “warning labels” showing up on wholesome foods under the new Food Guide regime. For example, yogurt, cheese, or chicken could have labels cautioning consumers about salt or fat content, while diet Coke won’t have a label, he says.

“This will be a huge impact on these commodities, because people will see a warning label, whether it’s a yield sign or a stop sign, on that yogurt that they would normally have bought for their kid’s school lunch. They’ll likely make another choice that could very likely be more unhealthy, but because it doesn’t fit the ideological activism that Health Canada is currently chasing, those other products won’t be impacted,” says Barlow.

He says we could see more information on these labels as soon as later this week.

Listen to Barlow share his concerns about the Food Guide changes below:


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One Comment


I personally feel that it is the Agriculture Sector (not Health Canada) who is constantly pushing my family towards considering my environmental footprint when making our food choices.

My family sees this more and more in email newsletters, via social media and even in handouts such as theses from the Ontario Corn Fed Beef farmers: http://www.ontariocornfedbeef.com/info/what-is-ocfb/

That push seems to get stronger and stronger every day with groups like Protein Industries Canada (http://proteinindustriescanada.ca) using words like ” carbon neutral production” right in their vision statement. I feel it’s a growing trend too, as Ag groups and sectors are including “environmental stewardship” or “sustainable development” in their mission & vision statements such as the BC Cattlemen’s Association (http://www.cattlemen.bc.ca/about.htm), Dairy Farmers of Quebec (http://lait.org/en/our-organization/les-producteurs-lait-du-quebec/) & other ag & agrifood groups.

I do not feel that MP John Barlow would say that “There’s an ideological activism in all these Ag Groups that is driving those decisions” , and I doubt that he would say that when these Ag-led initiatives are telling my family to consider the environment when making food choices they are giving us “bad advice on data based on bad science”.

Very confusing when messages coming from Health Canada seem to reflect what our family hears from different Ag sectors — including meat and dairy — yet one is “ideological activism” or “environmental activism” and the latter is based on the most recent data & science.


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