Dairy pro­duc­ers con­cerned over re­vi­sions to the Canada Food Guide

The Southwest Booster - - OPINION - DAIRY FARM­ERS OF CANADA

Health Canada is set to pub­lish a re­vised Canada Food Guide later this month. In­di­ca­tions are that 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.

Not only could this be detri­men­tal to the longterm health of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions by lead­ing them to er­ro­neously think that dairy prod­ucts are un­healthy, it will also have an ef­fect on a sec­tor that con­tin­ues to be neg­a­tively im­pacted by the con­ces­sions granted in re­cent trade agree­ments.

“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 two to four 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,” said Is­abelle Nei­derer, Dairy Farm­ers of Canada’s (DFC’S) Di­rec­tor of Nu­tri­tion and Re­search, and a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian.

Re­search con­tin­ues to con­firm that milk pro­teins rank as some of the high­est qual­ity pro­tein avail­able, and are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for grow­ing chil­dren and pre­serv­ing healthy bones and mus­cles in ag­ing Cana­dian adults.

This is es­pe­cially true when com­pared to the plant-based pro­teins Health Canada is con­sid­er­ing pri­or­i­tiz­ing over dairy within the new Food Guide. Un­like milk prod­ucts, these plant-based sources of pro­tein do not even meet Fed­eral re­quire­ments to be called “source of pro­tein” on their pack­ag­ing.

“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,” she added.

To make mat­ters worse, these changes to Canada’s do­mes­tic health guide­lines come at the same time when the dairy sec­tor is still reel­ing from the lat­est rounds of con­ces­sions made by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to se­cure re­cent trade agree­ments. “This would cause fur­ther harm to the dairy sec­tor by de­lib­er­ately di­min­ish­ing the nutri­tional value of dairy in the eyes of Cana­di­ans – in spite of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence,” said DFC pres­i­dent, Pierre Lam­pron. “Not only will this harm the dairy sec­tor and the hun­dreds of thou­sands who de­pend upon it for their liveli­hoods, it also risks harm­ing Cana­dian con­sumers by cre­at­ing con­fu­sion about the nutri­tional value of dairy”, he con­tin­ued.

For more than 75 years, milk and dairy prod­ucts have been clearly rec­og­nized within Canada’s Food Guide as play­ing a key role in a healthy, bal­anced diet. The sci­en­tific ev­i­dence sup­port­ing a role for milk prod­ucts in the pre­ven­tion of chronic dis­eases, is stronger than ever, and new ev­i­dence con­tin­ues to ac­cu­mu­late. As high­lighted by mem­bers of Cana­dian Clin­i­cians for Ther­a­peu­tic Nu­tri­tion, which con­sists of nearly 3,000 mem­ber clin­i­cians, in a let­ter writ­ten to the Health Min­is­ter, there are many sci­en­tific stud­ies now show­ing the ben­e­fits of full fat dairy.

The di­rec­tion pro­posed by the new Food Guide is not ev­i­dence-based, and could have fur­ther lon­glast­ing con­se­quences on a sec­tor that has al­ready been placed in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion by this Gov­ern­ment. Dairy Farm­ers of Canada asks that Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau di­rect the Min­is­ter of Health do her home­work by con­sid­er­ing and tak­ing into ac­count all avail­able sci­en­tific ev­i­dence prior to the re­lease of the new Food Guide. The health of Cana­di­ans, and the health of a vi­brant Cana­dian sec­tor, are at stake.

Dairy Farm­ers of Canada (DFC) is the na­tional pol­icy, lob­by­ing and pro­mo­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing Canada’s farm­ers. DFC strives to cre­ate sta­ble con­di­tions for the Cana­dian dairy sec­tor, to­day and in the fu­ture.

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