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Saskatchewan ag group has a ‘beef’ with front-of-package labelling

Saskatchewan ag group has a ‘beef’ with front-of-package labelling

SSGA raises concerns that labelling could impact consumer decision-making

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer   

Health Canada’s proposed food labels could target ground beef but not diet soda and chips, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) says.

Health Canada may adopt new FOP labelling, a consumer warning label system, to bring consumers’ attention to the saturated fat, sugar and sodium contents of certain food products, according to a SSGA release on Monday.   

The label will highlight the amount of saturated fat in ground beef, suggesting the product may not be a healthy option. Notably, the proposed label fails to portray the overall nutritional content of ground beef.

The potential label designs are shown here.

“While it is commendable that Canadians are being encouraged to eat healthy, this measure raises concerns because it also has the effect of singling out foods for one ingredient,” Shane Jahnke, SSGA president, said in the release.

A daily recommended serving of ground beef offers 23 grams of protein and 14 essential nutrients, according to the release. The FOP labelling, however, will draw consumer attention to the three grams of saturated fat in ground beef, representative of only 15 per cent of the daily recommended value.

“We are disappointed that ground beef, which is healthy and loaded with nutrients, will be required to have a FOP label,” Jahnke said in the release.

“But foods like diet soda and some kinds of cookies and chips, that are highly processed and less nutritional, won’t be required to have a label.”

Ground beef is one of the most affordable, convenient and accessible sources of proteins for Canadians, the release said. And the FOP label may convince consumers that beef is not a healthy food choice.

“We are concerned that the FOP label will lead to further confusion about healthy eating and detract from broader issues associated with the growing rate of obesity, unhealthy eating patterns and the overconsumption of highly processed and highly refined foods, confectionaries, sugary drinks and snack foods,” Chad MacPherson, SSGA general manager, said in an emailed statement to yesterday.

 So, SSGA is lobbying for Health Canada to consider exempting ground beef from FOP labelling regulations.

The SSGA has launched an online petition to support ground beef’s exclusion from this labelling.

Health Canada’s consultation and submission period for the proposed FOP labelling ends Apr. 26.

Producers can voice their concerns by contacting their Member of Provincial Parliament as well, MacPherson added.

The dairy industry is also facing potential FOP labelling on products and Dairy Farmers of Canada is participating in the consultations.  

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