Health Canada's new food guide takes a radical overhaul

Faith Castro
January 26, 2019

Visually, Canada's Food Guide has transformed to reflect modern-day diet needs (and aesthetic) but Health Canada holds that in some ways, the Guide has always stayed the same, "guiding food selection to promote the nutritional health of Canadians".

In the updated guide, "milk and alternatives" and "meat and alternatives" were removed as a stand-alone food group.

The new guide also minimizes dairy consumption.

Other suggestions like limiting highly processed foods, cooking at home, and eating with others, come alongside a new technically-accessible Guide that will be revised in the coming years.

"Our domestic production for these commodities may require recalibration in the near future, and many of our farms could disappear", Charlebois said in an email.

"It's refreshing that the Food Guide is focusing on how to eat, not just what to eat". That's why Health Canada specifically excluded meetings with industry this time.

Over the next seven decades, milk, fruits, vegetables, cereals and breads, and meat and fish were all recommended in some way, shape, or form.

"We're pleased that red meat is still certainly still part of the mix. but we do want to ensure that consumers don't start to think that you need to be swapping out a powerful protein like red meat and replace it with plant-based proteins". It also stresses Canadians should make water their beverage of choice and states processed and prepared foods that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat should not be consumed regularly.

More news: Raptors' Leonard voted starter for National Basketball Association all-star game

The Dairy Farmers of Canada advocacy group has taken issue with the removal of milk and alternatives as a food group and the government's overall softening stance on milk as a recommended beverage. But Health Canada does work with the provinces, and is expected to unveil a "Healthy Eating Pattern for Health Professionals and Policy Makers" this year.

"Lumping milk products together with other protein foods will lead to inadequate intakes of important nutrients", the Dairy Farmers of Canada's Isabelle Neiderer, a registered dietitian, said in a recent statement.

Petitpas Taylor said: "Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat".

"We really needed to keep that distance for any perceived or real conflict of interest", said Hasan Hutchinson, director-general of nutritional policy and promotion at Health Canada. Jill Harvie, public and stakeholder engagement manager for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, pointed out an image of beef is included on the food guide as an example of a "protein-rich food", along with eggs, nuts and lentils.

"It's sort of been the elephant in the corner of the room", says University of Guelph nutrition professor David Ma, university research leadership chair and director of the Guelph Family Health Study.

However, scientists such as Dr. Walter Willett, a Harvard nutrition expert (who comes from a long line of dairy farmers) has argued humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk whatsoever. Rather, the updated guide lists foods Canadians are encouraged to eat on the regular (and which ones to limit).

"We wanted to have a good diversity on our plate", she said.

"We've been trying to raise it as a concern to make people aware about the changes to the food guide, and how it's really affecting the dairy industry by not making it a primary focus of calcium and protein in their diets", he said. Among protein foods, it recommends consuming plant-based more often. "You might have to eat a can, a can and a half of black beans to be able to have the same amount of protein", she said.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

Discuss This Article