Monday, April 02, 2012

Canadian Government Will No Longer Police Accuracy of Food Labels

Just in case you need another reason to cook more frequently, the Canadian government has given the Canadian food industry the biggest birthday present ever - the end of oversight.

Yup, with our most recent budget the Harper Conservatives have elected to stop funding the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to oversee the accuracy and integrity of our food labels.

According to the budget document,
"The government will change how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitors and enforces non-health and non-safety food labelling regulations. The CFIA will introduce a web-based label verification tool that encourages consumers to bring validated concerns directly to companies and associations for resolution"
According to veteran Postmedia health and public affairs reporter Sarah Schmidt, "non-health and non-safety" includes, "net quantity" and "size".

So what does that mean for you?

It means the food industry has just been told that Mom and Dad are going away on vacation and they've left the liquor cabinet open and $200 cash on the dining room table to, "use as you kids see fit".

What do you think is going to happen? Do you think the food industry's going to ensure it reports calories and sizes accurately?

Given that it doesn't even do so now, I'm thinking whatever small amount of trying they once did is about to be shuttered.

But here's my question for the Government. How are "net quantity" and "size" both "non-health" regulations? Canadians with diet related chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, kidney failure, hypertension and more count on labeling accuracy in quantities and sizes to help them make more thoughtful and healthful decisions.

Daniel Tencer from the Huffington Post managed to interview Bob Kingston, the President of the Agricultural Union that represents food inspectors on this recent announcement.  His quote on the matter pretty much sums it up,
"it's a total farce"
Indeed. A sad one at that.

Here's hoping the vague language of "non-health and non-safety" allows for backpedaling.