In the next few weeks, Health Canada will introduce Canadians to its revised food guide.
This process has taken three years, as Health Canada did due diligence by hiring various market research companies to consult with more than 26,000 Canadians. Health Canada also held briefing sessions with various health associations and industry groups.
The focus-groups weighed in on everything from whether, Canadians preferred a blue or green document and whether they would like to see illustrations or actual photographs of food.
But it seems politics is getting in the way because Canada’s dairy industry is warning that proposed changes to the food guide could harm the dairy sector. And there have been reports of interagency pressure, with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture lobbying Health Canada on behalf of industry.
Canada’s Official Food Rules were first introduced in 1942, aimed at improving nutrition among Canadian soldiers fighting in the Second World War. In 1942, “Canada’s Official Food Rules” were first developed to fatten up Canadian soldiers so they could better fight in the Second World War.
The food guide has been revised seven times since then, with the current version last being updated in 2007.
And over the years, the food industry continued to lobby for more prominence.
First came the milk industry pushing for higher servings of milk to meet maximum nutritional requirements.
In 1992, Health Canada increased the recommended servings of meat and dairy foods in response to industry pressure.
To avoid the tainting of this document, Health Canada declared that “during the policy development of the new Canada’s Food Guide, officials from Health Canada’s Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion will not be meeting with representatives from the food and beverage industry.”
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.”
Cattle and dairy farmers fear new food guide could hurt their industries.
Early prototypes sent to focus groups showed that the familiar four “food groups” are gone. Meat and dairy no longer have their own category: They’re grouped under “protein foods.”
One wonders if fruit juices will be listed under “vegetables and fruit or be axed.
Officials maintain that the new food guide will continue to recommend Canadians choose a variety of nutritious foods and beverages, which includes lower fat milk and yogurt, and cheeses lower in sodium and fat.
Perhaps fewer Canadians than ever rely upon Canada’s Food Guide, they are more likely to base their dietary intake on what they see on the internet as well as friends and television.
Perhaps a better way to getting more Canadians acquainted with healthy food is to create a national school meal program and teach children to enjoy wholesome food like it is done in France.
Instead children end up gobbling fast-food junk during their breaks and end up developing an unhealthy taste for foods that aren’t recommended by Canada’s Food Guide. -CINEWS