The Current

Should the advice in the Canadian Food Guide be taken with a pinch of salt?

We look at the new Canada Food Guide and examine how business interests have influenced our nutrition over the decades, since the first guide in the 1940s.

The nutrition guide is in its 77th year and is being revised for first time since 2007

The Canada Food Guide has been educating Canadians about nutrition since the 1940s. (Health Canada)

Read Story Transcript

Health Canada is getting ready to publish a new edition of the Canada Food Guide, which was last updated in 2007. The guide has proven controversial in the past because so many different industries have a stake in what foods are highlighted, but experts have noted Health Canada's efforts to keep business out of the picture this time around.

The politics behind Canada's revamped food guide

5 years ago
Duration 2:36
A new Canada Food Guide is expected in 2019, but why has it taken two years to bring in the update? It may have something to do with the 6,000 groups and individuals consulted. It's supposed to be a public health document based on the latest science, but all sorts of other interest groups are trying to shape it.

To discuss the controversial role the food industry has played in influencing what Canadians eat, The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti spoke to:

  • Ian Mosby, a food historian who says the food industry began influencing the nutrition guide after its first iteration. He says the 1982 version of the guide was the most problematic because "if you actually followed it, you'd be eating far more calories than you needed and a whole bunch of different foods that you didn't need to eat."
  • Julia Belluz, senior health correspondent for Vox who says there is a long history of the food industry funding scientific studies on their products, which were "overwhelmingly favourable."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this page.

This segment was produced by Samira Mohyeddin and Danielle Carr.