Ranchers are criticizing Health Canada over the agency's proposal to include ground beef products in a plan to introduce mandatory front-of-package nutrition labelling for foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat.
The goal is to provide consumers with quick and easy nutrition information and encourage them to make healthier choices. Ground beef and ground pork would be included in this proposal because they are not a whole product.
"We want people cooking at home more, not less," said Ryder Lee, CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattleman's Association. "You think of spaghetti sauce and chili or Taco Tuesday. You don't need a warning against those."
The association says while ground beef does contain saturated fat, it is a highly nutritious source of protein and nutrients.
And the association says beef is a whole food that should be exempt from the regulations as are other meats, milk, eggs, vegetables and fruit.
Lee, who ranches with his brother in southwest Saskatchewan, says putting a label on ground beef would harm the cattle industry.
"Anything that makes people have a little doubt is one thing," he said, adding it will also hurt exports.
"We export about half of what we produce," he said. "Canada would be the only one that was doing this about beef.
"Our competitors might just say, 'Look, their government even warned them about this. It can't be nearly as good as our stuff, we shouldn't import.' "
Lee says the point of the proposed labelling is "so we stop eating ultra processed garbage-calories products," and not about ground mea, one of the most affordable sources of protein, cooked at home.