Common milk product could face marketing restrictions

Melanie ConsCanadian Farm News

New regulations could mislead consumers’ thoughts on ag products

By Kaitlynn Anderson
Staff Writer

Canada’s ag community could face another hurdle in the government’s regulations aimed at encouraging healthier lifestyles.

Health Canada released an update last Tuesday regarding Bill S-228: The Child Health Protection Act, which would restrict businesses from commercially marketing unhealthy food and beverages to children. The public has provided feedback on the proposed policy since June 2017.

If enacted, Bill S-228 will include a definition for unhealthy food and a list of factors to allow the government to determine if a business is directing an advertisement at children. The bill will also “set out exemptions to the prohibition, such as for children’s sports sponsorship,” the update stated.

Within this act, the government would set marketing restrictions on food products such as processed meat, most white and whole wheat breads, regular soft drinks, condiments, and breaded poultry.

Flavoured fluid milk also has a place on the list.

This act coincides with other aspects of the government’s Healthy Eating Strategy. The government proposed regulations that would require companies to put warning labels on the front of products, including some dairy products and ground meats. Health Canada has also proposed changes to the Food Guide, including a recommendation for people to transition to a more plant-based diet.

Some farmers worry that this series of legislation could mislead consumers.

“The same 16 essential nutrients are present in both white milk and flavoured milk,” Ashlee Smith, assistant director of internal communications and corporate sponsorships, told today.

Health Canada’s front-of-package labelling regulations could create a flawed definition of “unhealthy foods” and lead consumers to make unhealthy choices, she said.

“Flavoured milk and yogurts would (have warning labels) but diet pop and chips would not,” she said.

To share their concerns, producers are using the hashtag #HandsOffMyPlate on social media platforms.

And farmers aren’t the only individuals with concerns.

In fact, John Aldag, a B.C. Member of Parliament started a petition to ask the government to abandon the front-of-package labelling process, stop relying on American dietary guidelines and have an impartial scientific committee review Health Canada’s proposed changes to the Food Guide. (To date, over 2,900 citizens have signed the document.)