The Province and meat producers want Health Canada to shelve the idea of labelling ground beef as being high in saturated fat.
Agriculture minister Nate Horner says it could be a disaster for an industry already reeling.
While I think we can all support the federal healthy eating strategy in principal Ottawa's scientifically baseless labelling proposal for ground meat will unfairly impact families struggling with the high cost of living and would be an extra kick to producers already working to get back on their feet," Horner says. "Alberta's livestock associations have written to Health Canada to request that ground meat be exempt from the proposed front-of-package labelling similar to exemptions being offered for other nutritious single-ingredient foods like milk, eggs vegetables and other meats."
Health minister Jason Copping says a healthy diet including whole foods is a part of the foundation of overall health and consumers look to the government for guidance on what a healthy diet looks like.
"I agree with Health Canada's general intent to help consumers make healthier food choices, but I think they're getting it wrong in this instance, Copping says. "Ground beef and ground pork are whole foods, they're good food and that's what we should be telling Canadians."
He adds the proposed rules are inconsistent with the treatment of other products and the focus should stay on processed foods with added saturated fat, sugar and sodium.
The chair of the Alberta Beef Producers Melanie Wowk says producers are already dealing with higher feed costs because of the drought over the last few years and rising costs because of the carbon tax and increases in fuel costs.
"Labelling ground beef, an affordable, nutritious and versatile protein and a staple food for most Canadians is misleading and does not make sense to us," Wowk says. "Alberta beef is an extremely sought-after protein and almost 50 per cent of the beef consumed in Canada is in ground beef form."
She says now, during a time of high inflation, is not the time to vilify a single ingredient, readily available, nutrient-rich product.
Agriculture minister Horner says of the total retail meat sales in Alberta 15 per cent is ground beef, pork, veal and lamb.
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