Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Canada's Cheese Plan Stinks

Rosie Schwartz, nutritional columnist for the National Post, author and RD has exposed yet another instance where our government is bending over for Canada's dairy industry.

To explain let me take you back to the 80s, when the first low-fat cheeses began to hit the market.

They tasted terrible didn't they?

Nowadays though they don't taste half bad. In fact in some cases, it's almost impossible to distinguish the low-fat version from the regular.

The reason low-fat cheeses taste better nowadays is that over the years the cheese making industry has found ways to improve taste while still keeping the saturated fat levels low. They've been adding milk solids and whey and other foods that affect the "mouthfeel" of cheese.

By lowering fat content, calories are lowered and saturated fat levels are lowered.

Those are good things, right? Lowering calories and saturated fat in our diets is supposed to be healthy, right? Health Canada and our government in general would want that, right?

You'd sure think so. You'd think that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), an agency who Rosie points out's mandate is to,

"protect Canadians from preventable health risks"
would want and encourage Canadians to consume less saturated fat and calories and in so doing help protect Canadians from chronic conditions like heart disease and the number one preventable cause of death in Canada, obesity.

You'd sure think so.

But of course you'd be dead wrong.

The CFIA actually wants to limit the amount of whey that cheese makers use to make their cheese, thereby requiring cheese makers to utilize more fluid milk, increasing the saturated fat content of cheese, the calories of cheese, the price of cheese and decreasing the palatability of low-fat cheeses.

So why would they want to do that?

Perhaps because the CFIA doesn't work for Health Canada, the CFIA works directly for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture works directly for our farmers. You see, by limiting the whey that cheese makers are "allowed" to use they will require cheese makers to buy more liquid milk from Canada's dairy farmers.

So what does Health Canada have to say on the matter? Health Canada who as I mentioned yesterday quite literally launched the Food Guide while basically holding hands with the Secretary of State for Agriculture?

Rosie managed to contact Renee Bergeron a Happy Corporations spokesperson who had this to say,
"Based on our initial review, Health Canada considers that the proposed changes to cheese standards would not be expected to compromise the nutritional quality of cheeses and cheese products."
I wonder which corporate shill in Health Canada had the honour of signing their name to a paper that stated that raising the saturated fat content and calories in cheeses wouldn't compromise their nutritional quality.

Health Canada and CFIA, please stop cutting the cheese.

Bookmark and Share

2 comments:

  1. Theresa11:09 am

    Is there no shame? When will this new plan to limit whey start? Is there someone for us to lobby? I fear I know the answer to this question......

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous12:35 pm

    I would need to see more information on this -- cheeses are defined by how they are coagulated, and some processes end up with more or less whey in the final product. In order to remain true to the original nature of the cheese and in order to get traditional textures and sensory attributes, these shouldn't really be changed too much.
    Whey protein is also a way of bulking up the protein content of the cheese. By limiting the whey content of cheese, the CFIA may just be impsosing a standards regulation to ensure that cheesemakers aren't cutting corners for profit.

    What's more, I think the wrong issue is being discussed here. I think what we should be considering is that the focus should not be on encouraging low-fat cheese. It should be on encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and *reasonable* intake of products higher in saturated fat.

    Granted, there will be some aspect of what you are suggesting, as the DFO is pretty intense that way, but I think it's not as black and white a picture as you paint it.

    ReplyDelete