In the coming months, Health Canada is expected to release the newest version of Canada’s Food Guide. This is the first update since 2007, and the proposed changes are not without controversy. First looks at the new guide suggests a significant shift away from meat and dairy and increased focus on plant-based protein.
“This has definitely been a point of contention,” says Kelsey Johnson, of iPolitics. “The food guide is the iconic Canadian nutritional policy, it’s a staple in elementary health classes, it’s often referred to when people are trying to figure out how to deal with their health issues.”
Johnson points out there’s been heated debate within the health and agriculture industry’s as certain sectors within ag —mainly beef and dairy — are concerned how the new changes will be presented to the public.
The biggest arguments Johnson hears is that people outside of agriculture don’t understand why the food industry, that has a clear economic interest in the file, should be involved in what’s being seen as strictly a health document.
“The ag industry will argue, ‘Well if you don’t have a strong ag industry with a strong economic baseline, then you can’t produce the foods required for a healthy population’,” she says. “But the health industry is coming from similar stresses in that they’re dealing with the public that’s not necessarily trusting (of them) for example, anti-vaccinations and everything else. — (on top of this) Health Canada is dealing with a chronic health problem as people are overweight.”
Johnson says the revamped food guide will be a hard fight on both sides as food is both a personal and emotional topic. She adds while economics and science are important and are crucial to fact based discussions, they don’t resolve emotional fights like this one has become.
“The food guide has become an emotional fight over who is right and who is wrong.”
Shaun Haney, host of RealAg Radio, points out as this discussion continues, if it’s going to remain based on facts — without input from the ag sector —environmentalists and activists should be kept out of the consultation, too.
If it is going to be about nutrition, let’s make sure it’s only dietitians and health professionals having the discussion, Haney says.
Listen to the full interview with RealAg Radio host, Shaun Haney and Kelsey Johnson, of iPolitics, as the pair discuss what the outcome could be of the upcoming changes to the Canada’s Food Guide.