July 4, 2022
Canadian ground meat no longer required to have nutrition labels
Health Canada will exclude ground meat and poultry from the stricter nutrition labelling regulations that are scheduled to take effect by 2026, following harsh criticism from the local meat industry and other stakeholders, the National Post reported.
Canadian Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said the distinction between whole cuts of meat and ground meat was proposed, but it was decided to treat the two types of meat equally in order to provide "more clarity" and prevent "all sorts of confusion."
In a technical briefing with the media, department representatives added that they didn't want to add an additional label to suggest that ground meat is less superior to whole cuts of meat.
Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food policy and distribution at Dalhousie University, agreed that Health Canada had made the right choice.
Charlebois said the goal of these front of package labelling policies is to persuade business to offer consumers healthier products. As a product with a single ingredient cannot be reformulated, he said it is good news for consumers and the food industry as a whole.
Manuel Arango, director of policy and advocacy of the Heart & Stroke Foundation, said that the new labelling will address a more significant and urgent issue.
He said whole cuts of meat and ground beef are not the main dietary concerns we should have, instead it is the highly processed foods that are of greatest concern.
Most foods that contain more than 15% of the daily recommended intake of sodium, sugars, or saturated fat will now need to be labelled as such with a new symbol that looks like a magnifying glass in the top right corner of the product.
There are some exceptions, either because the foods already fall outside of the nutrition facts table or because they have known health benefits. These include milk, most meats, fish or foods prepared and processed at retail.
Since ground meats are not exempt from providing a nutrition facts table like whole cuts of meat are, they were initially taken into consideration for the policy. Given that ground meat is a natural single-ingredient product, just like meat cuts are, that choice left the meat industry perplexed.
In terms of nutrition, the majority of ground beef contains more than 15% of the daily recommended amount of saturated fat. However, some dairy products have comparable levels and have never been subject to the new labels.
Charlebois said excluding ground meat would have increased the price of meat in Canada, adding that it is the last thing Canadians need right now, when food inflation rates are at 10%.
Health Canada said ompanies have until January 1, 2026 to comply with the new rules. It will give them enough time to rework their products' sodium, sugar, and saturated fat content.
- National Post