Beef producers weigh in on new food guide

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During the two rounds of public consultations prior to revising the food guide, Health Canada met with industry for their input.

But she stressed her organization, which markets and brands Canadian beef and veal, will try to ensure Canadians know they don't have to replace red meat with plant-based proteins, but rather replace the unhealthy, processed foods.

The new guide will continuously update as more information on healthy eating is discovered, which is basically entirely different than what was considered "healthy" in older versions of the guide.

Being the first revision in the past decade, the new food guide suggests some major changes to eating habits.

Hutchinson said the intent was not to cut dairy from the guide and pointed to examples where low-fat, low-sodium and unsweetened dairy products are listed within other recommended food categories, including suggested healthy proteins and beverages. "The more that Canadians think about their food and where it comes from, the better it is for farmers".

Dairy has long had a central role in health policies in Canada and other Western cultures. "CPMA has always been advocating for increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by Canadians and our Half Your Plate campaign has been resonating with consumers from coast to coast to coast".

It wasn't until 1992 that the Food Guide took proportion into account, using its graphic to emphasize that people should consume more grain products and produce than dairy items and meats.

CPMA and CPHA are hopeful that the recommended consumption target in the Food Guide will further alert Canadians to their current deficit in fruit and vegetable consumption. As stated in the 2016 Kruger Report, 80% of Canadians do not consume enough fruits and vegetables as recommended by Canada's Food Guide, resulting in an economic burden calculated at $4.4 billion.

The document released Tuesday is only part of Health Canada's new healthy-eating recommendations.

Lemon said beef has an unfair reputation, due partly to concerns around the amount of fat in red meat, but that it's still an important source of protein for Manitobans.

The changes have been praised by advocates for plant-based diets, but have raised the ire of the dairy lobby.

But by eschewing processed foods, Graydon said, the guide is jeopardizing its own credibility with the already health-conscious consumer.

"We really needed to keep that distance for any perceived or real conflict of interest", Hutchinson said.

"You don't fill your plate 100 per cent with beef typically in a meal, so the way they've got the plate drawn up, that a quarter of your plate should be focused on protein - I think, as the beef industry, we agree with that", he said.

The new food guide also calls out chocolate milk, in addition to juice, as a culprit in the growing childhood obesity crisis.

The move away from meat and dairy requirements has won praise from vegetarian and vegan advocates, including Dr David Jenkins, the Canada research chair in nutrition and metabolism and a professor at the University of Toronto.

"It is a golden opportunity for sustainable agriculture", she said.

Milk, milk products and meat are instead folded in with other sources of protein, along with the suggestion to "choose plant-based protein more often".

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