Did you know Health Canada’s new nutritional guidelines suggest potato chips are healthier than many nutrient-rich foods? That’s not right.

When it comes to nutritional recommendations, the health of Canadians should be our federal government’s first priority. Unfortunately, Health Canada’s new nutritional guidelines are flawed and risk discrediting many nutritious products, such as yogurt and cheese, and could result in Canadians making unhealthy choices.

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Health Canada’s own 2015 Evidence Review on Dietary Guidance found that:

If Health Canada recognizes milk products reduce the risk of these chronic diseases, and Canadians are not getting enough of the essential nutrients milk products provide, why would it create guidelines that discourage their consumption?

What's This About?

In 2017, under the framework of the Healthy Eating Strategy, Health Canada began developing a series of policies, including revising Canada’s Food Guide and a proposal to implement mandatory front-of-package labelling that would categorize foods as either healthy or unhealthy based solely on three factors: their levels of sodium, sugar and saturated fat. But, our bodies are complex and this approach to nutrition is too simplistic - it doesn’t take into account whether foods contain essential nutrients or reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
 
Under this proposed approach, foods such as yogurt and cheese, which we know are rich in many essential nutrients, including vitamin A (cheese), magnesium (yogurt), and vitamin B-12, zinc and calcium (cheese and yogurt), would require a warning label, while snack foods, such as most potato chips and all diet sodas, would not. That’s not right; any framework that suggests potato chips and diet sodas are “healthier” than nutrient-rich foods is flawed and could lead Canadians to make unhealthy choices.

One of the main objectives of Front-of-Package warning labelling is to reduce chronic diseases including: heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes; Health Canada’s own 2015 Evidence Review on Dietary Guidance found that:

If Health Canada recognizes that milk products reduce the risk of these chronic diseases of concern, and that Canadians are not getting enough of the essential nutrients that milk products provide, why would they create guidelines that unfairly vilifies and discourages consumption?

Send a Letter

In moving forward with these guidelines, Health Canada, whose stated goal is to “help consumers make informed, healthier choices,” risks doing just the opposite: confusing Canadians about the overall value of many nutritious foods and creating a framework that does not reflect the best and most up-to-date scientific knowledge available. It would be irresponsible for Health Canada to move forward with this unbalanced policy as it is currently proposed – and not until it has thoroughly considered all the available evidence.

When it comes to nutritional recommendations, the health and well-being of Canadians should be our federal government’s first priority.

Send a submission to Health Canada’s consultation on its mandatory front-of-package labelling proposal today and copy your MP, encouraging them to push back against Health Canada’s flawed guidelines, and take the time to consider all the available evidence. Let your MP know this narrow view on nutrition is putting the health of Canadians at risk.