Farmers have beef with new ground meat labelling proposed by Health Canada

·2 min read
Dennis Hogan, chair of the Prince Edward Island Cattle Producers, worries the proposed labels will hurt his industry.   (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Dennis Hogan, chair of the Prince Edward Island Cattle Producers, worries the proposed labels will hurt his industry. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. beef producers are frustrated over new food label requirements proposed by Health Canada.

The agency wants special labels on foods that contain at least 15 per cent of the recommended daily intake of sodium, sugar or saturated fat.

Most whole foods will be exempt, including fruits, vegetables and cuts of meat.

But ground meats, like beef and pork, will not.

Dennis Hogan, chair of the Prince Edward Island Cattle Producers, worries the labels will hurt his industry.

"Beef is a staple of our diet, and has been a staple of our diet for centuries. And now to bring in these regulations that it needs a health warning on the package of it, to me, it doesn't make any sense. It's an insult really. It's a slap in the face to the beef industry."

Bryan Eneas/CBC
Bryan Eneas/CBC

Hogan said he has contacted P.E.I.'s agriculture minister to express his concerns.

At this point, there's no clear timeline on when the new rules will come into effect.

Health Canada says other whole foods will be exempt because they're either proven to provide a protective effect on health — such as fruits, vegetables and dairy — or because they're already exempt from displaying basic nutritional facts, as is the case with whole cuts of meat.

'Head scratcher'

Jennifer Taylor, registered dietician and UPEI professor, said that rationale is confusing.

"I couldn't find any explanation for why ground beef should have a label. I've bought lots of ground beef, where all that's on it is the price and the weight … So it is a bit of a head scratcher."

Taylor thinks Health Canada should instead focus its labelling on ultra-processed foods.

"Trying to limit that consumption, to me, would be the number one priority. People cooking at home from scratch, whether they're using ground beef or ground chicken ... To me, cooking is a really important thing to encourage."

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