Saskatoon

Scheer says he'd 'absolutely' review Canada's new Food Guide

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer told a business crowd in Saskatoon Monday that the new Food Guide was the result of a "flawed" process lacking consultation.

Conservative leader also vows to abolish Liberals' planned front-of-package nutrition labelling

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer defended dairy and denounced the process that led to Canada's new Food Guide at a Saskatoon business luncheon Wednesday. (Don Somers/CBC)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is promising another review of Canada's recently updated Food Guide should the Tories come to power this fall, saying the latest guide is the result of a flawed and biased process.

Scheer made the comment at the Dairy Farmers of Canada's annual general meeting in Saskatoon on Wednesday, after being asked by a young farmer about the Conservatives' food policies.

"The process was flawed," Scheer said of the new guide. "Complete lack of consultation. Seems to be ideologically driven by people who have a philosophical perspective and a bias against certain types of healthy food products.

"So absolutely we want to get that right."

Scheer added his party wants the guide to "actually reflect what we know, what the science tells us."

"The work that you have done as a group to prove the science behind the product that you produce has been incredible and that went completely unused during the development of the new food guide," he said. 

The federal health minister called Scheer's attacks "ridiculous."

"Andrew Scheer [is] spreading lies about a Food Guide that was enthusiastically welcomed by Canadians and celebrated as a world leader," Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in an email to CBC News. 

"These totally inaccurate comments are hardly surprising coming from the same Conservative Party that muzzled government scientists and blatantly ignored evidence. Health policy should be based on evidence, not industry, and meet the needs of all Canadians. That's exactly the approach our government took in crafting Canada's new Food Guide."

The Liberal government unveiled its new, simplified Food Guide this past January. It had been updated previously in 2007.

The word "dairy" appears nowhere in the text-only version of the Food Guide snapshot, while a glass of water is shown in the main diagram as "your drink of choice."

It's a stark contrast to 1992, when Health Canada increased the recommended servings of meat and dairy foods in response to industry pressure.

The Liberal government unveiled a new, simplified Food Guide this past January. (CBC)

'Chocolate milk saved my son's life' 

Scheer also vowed that a Conservative-led government would abandon the Liberals' plan for front-of-package nutrition labelling.

"I can make all those decisions myself," Scheer said of the currently proposed labels, which Ottawa already has confirmed would not apply to milk.

Scheer nevertheless spoke of his own son's past "picky" eating habits in defending the importance of milk as a source of calcium.

"I truly do believe that chocolate milk saved my son's life," Scheer said in jest. 

He went on to speak about the years when his son was aged two to six. 

"He was eating toast, would eat bacon, he would eat very plain grilled meats and we couldn't get him to eat much else. And so [we] were really worried about it. Where was he gonna get his calcium and other vitamins? And he loved chocolate milk and he would drink chocolate milk by the tumbler-full," Scheer said.

He added: "The idea that these types of products that we've been drinking as human beings and eating as human beings for millennia — that now all of a sudden they're unhealthy — it's ridiculous."

CBC News has reached out to Health Canada for comment.

Health Canada has released four proposed designs for a new front-of-package label for food and beverage packaging. (Health Canada/CBC)

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips, ideas, complaints, just want to say 'Hi'? Write me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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