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Mixed emotions from Saskatchewan on proposed beef packaging health warning labels

Ground beef on display at a Regina grocer. Troy Charles / Global News

As Health Canada announced its plans to label saturated fat content in beef and pork products, people in Saskatchewan are having mixed reactions.

The proposal by Health Canada is to introduce mandatory front-of-package nutrition labelling for pre-packaged foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat.

Read more: Ranchers’ group pushes back against Health Canada’s ‘vilification’ of beef

The goal, according to the Health Canada website, is to provide consumers with quick and easy nutrition information and encourage them to make healthier choices, and also to encourage food manufacturers to make healthier products.

“The proposed Front-of-package (FOP) nutrition labelling is an integral part of the Healthy Eating Strategy,” Health Canada said in statement to Global News.

“The intent is not to convey a warning, rather it aims to help reduce risks to health by providing consumers with quick and easy-to-use information on foods high in sodium, sugars and/or saturated fat.”

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Read more: Manitoba beef producers feel ‘targeted’ by potential Health Canada label change

Premier Scott Moe and others in the ranching industry have expressed frustrations of the new label.

“A Health Canada label proposal on ground beef and pork serves no purpose and makes no sense as these products have long been an important source of high-quality protein and nutrients for Canadians,” said Moe in a Facebook post.

“Our government stands with our livestock industry and shares the concern that this unnecessary label policy will bring more harm than good.”

Other people, such as Melanie Rozwadoski, an assistant professor in the college of pharmacy and nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan, are in favour of the label, as long as it is consistent across all meats.

“Labels are intended to help inform the consumer, to help the consumer to make better food choices,” she said. “It should be consistent across the other meats that are available in front of you so you can make an informed choice.”

The FOP regulations will require a nutrition symbol only on foods high in sodium, sugars and/or saturated fat, regardless of whether the nutrient is added or naturally-occurring.

“For most foods, the “high in” threshold would be 15% of the daily value,” Health Canada’s statement said.

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“An FOP nutrition symbol on foods high in saturated fat, sodium or sugar would help make the healthier choice the easier choice for all Canadians.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta government, meat industry fights new labelling on ground beef and pork'
Alberta government, meat industry fights new labelling on ground beef and pork

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