Monday, June 29, 2015

Dairy Farmers of Canada Break The Law At Medical Conference

I took that photo up above at the recent Canadian Obesity Network conference's exhibit hall.

According to Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,
"Nutrient function claims may not refer to the treatment, prevention or cure of a Schedule A disease; or claim to treat, mitigate, or prevent a disease, disorder or physical state; or claim to correct, restore or modify an organic function [3(1) and 3(2), FDA]. Such claims are considered to be drug claims (see Drugs vs. Foods)."
"Nutrient function claims are not made for a food per se; they may only be made respecting the energy value or nutrients in a food."
And yet here we see, in a room full of influencers important enough for the Dairy Farmers to buy a booth, that Dairy Farmers of Canada have explicitly claimed that the consumption of "milk products" prevents colon cancer and type 2 diabetes, improves bone health, and confers healthy blood pressure.

While dairy has a longstanding tradition of marketing a protein source with calcium as a uniquely magical elixir of strength and health, even I was surprised at how blatantly they ignored CFIA guidance in a room that among others might well have included conference attendee Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, the Director General of the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion within the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada.

Guess that means either the Dairy Farmers of Canada don't care about CFIA's guidelines, or that they're not worried about their enforcement, as the notion that they were unaware of the guidelines is simply not a possibility.

UPDATE, July 14th: The Dairy Farmers of Canada reached out to me, and citing 1987 Alberta case law, pointed out that in Canada, if the target of the message isn't the general public, they can make any claims they see fit. See more here.