Monday, May 04, 2009

Health Canada set to fortify junk food!

(Perhaps soon to be fortified with vitamin E and B-carotene!)

Just when I thought the decisions at Health Canada couldn't get any worse than their industry based Food Guide or their allowance of whole wheat labeling in Canada to exclude the germ, Health Canada's now preparing to allow the food industry to fortify junk food.

Yup, the corporate shills over at Health Canada are getting set to roll out new regulations that will allow the food industry to "fortify" non-nutritious, highly processed foods at Big Food's discretion with vitamins and minerals.

What's that you say? You can't understand why we need fortification at all? We don't have a public health crisis whereby there are emergency rooms stocked with Canadians with nutritional deficiencies?

Well yes, that's true.

So why is Health Canada allowing for this? Who could it possible help?

Perhaps here I should remind you of my moniker for Health Canada - Happy Corporations. You see corporate food Canada will be absolutely thrilled with the ability to "fortify" at their discretion as it will allow them to put half a penny of nutrients into a pile of highly processed, diabetes and heart disease inducing, nutritionally deficient Frankenfoods and then use the front of the package to talk about how they'll help you build your immune system, strengthen your bones and support your nervous system.

The thing is, given that we know of the "health halo" effect, consumers may well choose to eat larger portions of these highly processed, chronic disease inducing foods under the false impression that they're suddenly good for them, or worse yet, consumers may choose them over cooking their own far more nutritious versions.

Looking over Health Canada's list of vitamins and minerals that can be added at Big Food's discretion I see included B-carotene, folic acid and vitamin E. Interestingly all three have been linked to adverse health outcomes in patients taking supplemental sources. B-carotene has been linked to lung cancer, folic acid recently to prostate cancer and colon cancer, and vitamin E to all causes of mortality.

The bottom line is this - our food supply does not need fortification - it has ample amounts of nutrients. What Canadians need is the education and encouragement to actually utilize our whole food supply not our processed food supply.

Allowing for the fortification of junk food will simply encourage the consumption of junk food and will become one more shining example of just how out-of-touch, backwards, and harmful are Health Canada's food policies.

Shame on you Health Canada - what an incredibly bad joke you've become.

[Interestingly, this policy had been slotted to roll out in early March yet for some reason the launch has been delayed. One of my sources thinks it's because Health Canada's trying to figure out the best way to launch this mess on an unsuspecting public. Given the H1N1 flu monopolizing the health news my bet is that Health Canada is going to quietly slime this policy out over the next few weeks while the country's attention is elsewhere. Why not take a moment of your time and contact your MP and let him or her know what you think about this proposed policy? To find your MP click here.]