Health Canada creates debate as it prepares to release Food Guide makeover

By Dori Modney (@Dori_Modney on Twitter)
January 7, 2019 - 2:21pm Updated: January 8, 2019 - 4:45am

OTTAWA --  The Canadian Food Guide has undergone a facelift that has come in for a critique of how the scalpel was wielded.

The new food guide has ditched the rainbow visual many Canadians associate with the dietary guide commonly used in daycares, schools, hospitals and dieticians. It's expected to be published in late January.

The director general of nutritional policy and promotion at Health Canada, Hasan Hutchison, says it is exciting to get to the stage where the department can show Canadians and stakeholders the revamped guide.

The document pays particular attention to what Health Canada has noted as a majority of Canadians not eating enough vegetables, fruits and whole grains and shifts towards a higher proportion of plant-based foods, including plant-based sources of proteins.  
The food guide wants to see Canadians eat more fibre-rich foods, eat less red meat, and replace foods that contain mostly saturated fat with foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat.
That has caused concern for industry players including the Dairy Farmers of Canada, who say the document would de-emphasize the scientifically proven nutritional value and health benefits of dairy products by eliminating the Milk and Alternatives group and actively advocating that Canadians shift towards consuming more plant-based sources of protein.  

Isabelle Neiderer, the Dairy Farmers of Canada's (DFC's) Director of Nutrition and Research, and a registered dietitian, says this could be detrimental to the long-term health of future generations by leading them to erroneously think that dairy products are unhealthy.

"There is no scientific justification to minimize the role of milk products in a healthy diet as they are a key source of 6 of the 8 nutrients that most Canadians already fall short of. The current scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that the daily consumption of 2 to 4 servings of milk products has a beneficial role to play in promoting bone health and preventing several chronic diseases that Health Canada wants to address with the new Food Guide such as hypertension, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke."

Neiderer says, "Milk products and other protein foods are not interchangeable. Milk products provide different nutrients aside from protein that are important to health. Lumping milk products together with other protein foods will lead to inadequate intakes of important nutrients."


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