The guide, which is created by the federal government and influences meals served in public canteens as well as private homes, used to feature four food groups – milk and milk products; meat and alternatives; grain products; and fruits and vegetables. Cheese is left off the guide altogether, and the suggested drink is water.
Now it has ditched these four groups, and removed dairy and meat from the guidelines, replacing the groups with a plate half covered by fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grains, and a quarter ‘proteins’ – which include meat and dairy foods as well as plant-based proteins like tofu and chickpeas. The guidelines themselves say: “Eat veggies, fruit, whole grains, plant-based protein foods more regularly.”
They also tell people to reduce saturated fat – which comes from meat and dairy products.
Canada Food Guide
Speaking about the new guide, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told Canadian paper The Globe and Mail that the meat and dairy industries had been lobbying. “The only thing I can say is that these many groups have made their positions known, and it is their right to do so.
“It was my role as Health Minister to meet with all stakeholders. But in no way did my meetings influence the individuals creating Canada’s Food Guide.
“We want to make sure Canadians have access to the best information with the food guide – the best information based on the best science out there, and science that’s not influenced by industry.”
Canadian Medical Association (CMA) President Dr. Gigi Osler said the CMA was ‘pleased with the federal government’s overall direction in the new Food Guide…[and] particularly supportive of the evidence-based review and extensive consultation process used to draft the new Guide, to ensure it was founded on unbiased research.”
The dairy industry us less pleased with the new advice, with one group releasing a statement saying: “Dairy Farmers of Canada remains concerned that the updated food guide does not reflect the most recent and mounting scientific evidence available.”
The organization’s Manager of Health education, Lee Finell, added that milk ‘is a good source of nutrients’ – listing calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D, saying: “These are really important nutrients, and Canadians already aren’t getting enough of them.”