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Martin Shields's reaction to overturning meat labelling requirement

A proposed regulation from Health Canada that would require ground beef and pork to have a "high in" saturated fat warning label has been overturned.

MP Martin Shields was an outspoken advocate against the label when it was first proposed, and is happy to see that Health Canada has since reversed its decision.

"It feels really good because it shouldn't have been that decision in the first place. To single out ground beef and ground pork made no sense at all. So finally somebody came to their senses and realized there's a lot of other products that are different that they may need something to deal with, but not straight one product like beef or pork," he said.

Shields added it was a team effort all across Alberta to make Albertans' voices heard.

"There was a lot of us, MPs from the west, southern Alberta in particular, the cattle association people. We worked together on this one and used all of the avenues we could to try and get this reversed, so it was a team effort and I was glad to be a part of a team with this messaging."

He added that it was great to see Alberta and the federal government work together to recognize what he believes is a mistake and that it's great to see Alberta's concerns recognized.

To Shields, keeping ground meat label-free was about more than just the economy. It was about recognizing Alberta's culture.

"It's important, it's our culture, it's our history of 120-130 years cattle ranching. It feels really good that (labelling meat) was recognized as a wrong thing to be doing."

A nice side effect of this issue was that meat supporters could publicly advocate for the quality of Alberta and Canada's meat, which Shields says is important since it reinforces that our meat is among the best in the world.

"It's best in the world in a sense of what's produced here, and I think that gave us the chance to talk about the high quality of Canadian beef and pork which is world-leading. Putting a dangerous label on it would've also made it more difficult for trade."

Now that meat has become a publicly discussed topic, Shields hopes Canadians all across the country will continue to engage with each other to create strong relationships.

"The Canadian cattle guys are very good themselves, but the partnerships they create... we can create that across the country, reinforce that. Those partnerships have always been strong with the producers, but this reinforces our relationship with them in the sense that we're in this together."

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