Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – A proposal by Health Canada to label ground beef and pork as high in saturated fat is being met with stiff opposition from cattle and pork producers.

It’s all part of new Front of Package regulations proposed by Health Canada, which would require both products to carry the label “High In Saturated Fat” on the front of the product.  This move is seen as another blow to farmers in their efforts to market their products.

Other single ingredient foods like meat, eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables will not require similar warnings.

The Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA) and Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) have launched an initiative to put a spotlight on the issue called “Don’t Label My Beef,” where people can sign a petition and send a letter to their MP.

Dr. Melanie Wowk, who ranches with her family east of Edmonton, is the Chair of ABP.

She says the proposal by Health Canada does not make sense and is misleading.

“Health Canada intends to place a warning label on a product which is consumed by more than 90 percent of Canadians that will minimize its nutritional benefits by oversimplifying it with a high in saturated fat label.”

“As a beef producer, I am confused and concerned about why ground beef would need to carry a damaging and unnecessary front of package warning label. I take extreme pride in the beef I produce,” says Keith Gregory, ACFA Vice-Chair. “The proposed labelling of a whole, single-ingredient food, such as ground beef, contradicts the foundational principles of healthy eating, as beef is an affordable protein that contributes vital nutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin B12 in ways people can easily use.”

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Martin Waldner is the Executive Director of Alberta Pork and farms southeast of Edmonton.

He says ground meat is an unprocessed, healthy staple in the diets of many Canadians.

“Less than 10 percent of saturated fats in most diets comes from fresh red meat,” Waldner says.

He adds pork, fresh or ground, is an excellent place for Canadians to get nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin B+ in their diets.

“This will send the wrong message to Canadians.”

The groups are calling for an immediate exemption for ground beef and pork from the new regulations.

For more information on the proposed Health Canada changes clicks here.