Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Food Guide Changes Likely to Influence Public, Private Food Providers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Food Guide Changes Likely to Influence Public, Private Food Providers

Article excerpt

Food guide update could affect millions

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Canadians have no shortage of options when it comes to nutrition and dietary advice. On magazine covers, Instagram feeds, gyms and office break rooms, consumers face a daily bombardment of the latest diet trends and "superfood" fads.

But that information overload is precisely the reason the country needs an authoritative source on healthy eating, some experts say.

The "dubious guidance" often found online relies less on science and more on an obsession with diet and weight loss to the neglect of overall health, says Jess Haines, associate professor of applied nutrition at the University of Guelph.

"The guide is an important document to counter those sources that are less evidence-based," she said.

The food guide informs food policies at publicly funded institutions such schools, hospitals, daycare centres and long-term care facilities, affecting how millions of Canadians eat, said Haines, whom the government consulted on the guide.

The new food guide carries more authority than the previous iteration from 2007, which bore the marks of decades of lobbying from the dairy, grain and meat industries, she said.

Her colleague Mike von Massow, a food economist at the University of Guelph, sees limits to the overhauled guidelines, which endorse plant-based diets over meat, dairy and processed foods.

"I don't expect there to be a sea change in how we feed people either institutionally or at home," he said

"In a hospital or many institutional settings there are already dietitians involved in that process and thinking about what is in the best health interests of this student or that patient."

Industry analyst Olivia Ross of IbisWorld predicts a swift response, however.

"Because the industry is highly competitive, food service contractors may quickly implement the new guidelines by offering more plant-based menu options to gain a competitive advantage," she said in an email. …

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