Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has announced that, should he become Prime Minister in October, he would alter the new and updated version of Canada’s Food Guide, because he doesn’t believe that it is "based on sound science." Scheer has suggested that the latest copy of the food guide "hurts the dairy industry" and would absolutely be reviewed by his government.
Scheer spoke about updating the food guide during an annual meeting of Dairy Farmers of Canada in Saskatoon. In response to a question from a dairy producer about his party’s food policy, Scheer remarked, "Absolutely we're going to review that Canada's Food Guide."
This comes after Canada’s Official Food Guide was updated earlier this year, for the first time in over ten years. The latest copy of the food guide, which provides recommendations for a nutritious and well-balanced diet, has significantly de-emphasized the importance of dairy in a healthy diet.
As well as downgrading the importance of dairy, the food guide has also put less focus on meat, with recommendations that Canadians should consume more plant-based proteins. The push towards a more vegetarian diet is clear, as the guide focuses significantly on fresh fruit and vegetables and plant-based alternatives, and pays little attention to dairy and meat.
The guide states, "Choose protein foods that come from plants more often. Plant-based protein foods can provide more fibre and less saturated fat than other types of protein foods. This can be beneficial for your heart health".
Despite Canada's Food Guide being created by experts, and widely used and acknowledged by health professionals, Scheer has accused the alterations of being "ideologically driven by people who have … a bias against certain types of healthy food products."
On a personal note, Scheer told the group of farmers that one of his children was a ‘picky eater’ and he was concerned that he would not receive adequate calcium and nutrients in his diet. This changed, he said, when they introduced the child to chocolate milk. "I truly do believe that chocolate milk saved my son's life," he said.
In a comment that was met with considerable applause, Scheer also promised that if he became Prime Minister, he would not require manufacturers to have front-facing labelling on their products. These comments come as Health Canada have proposed that all foods containing high levels of sodium, sugar or saturated fat must feature warning labels to let consumers know the product’s content.
While Health Canada hopes to have this implemented as early as 2022, the Conservative Leader made it clear he would eliminate these plans as Prime Minister. He noted, “I don't need the government to come along and put a big red sticker on something just because somebody in an office thought that I shouldn't be eating that."
In response to the Conservative Leader's "ridiculous" comments, the Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor simply said, "Health policy should be based on evidence not industry, and meet the needs of all Canadians."