Health Canada's new policy to add warning symbols for foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat has stopped short of adding it to ground meat products after pushback from producers.
To aid healthy food choices, companies will be required to add nutrition warning labels to the front of most pre-packaged products with more than 15 per cent of the suggested daily value of saturated fats, sugar or sodium — excluding ground meat — and 30 per cent for pre-packaged meals.
That's exactly what cattle ranchers across Canada were hoping to see after criticizing the proposal for "vilifying" ground meat for customers and affecting meat exports.
"There's a lot of relief out in the country that this didn't unfold the way it was proposed," said Ryder Lee, CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association.
He said Health Canada's goal to warn people about "risky" foods in their diet went too far when it considered adding ground beef, a single-ingredient food with nutritional value, to that list.
Instead, Health Canada has said the symbol won't be added to ground meat because it could imply whole cuts of meat, which don't require nutritional facts, are a healthier choice.
"That warning was headed towards warning people against home cooking … with that exemption, they're in a much better place," Lee said.
WATCH | Butchers, ranchers aggravated by proposed nutrition warning labels:
The new label will be a magnifying glass, intended to let people know to scan the nutrition facts for the high level of "nutrients of concern."
"Evidence is clear that high intakes of saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium can contribute to various diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity," Health Canada said in a Thursday news release.
Health Canada said the rules are set to come into effect on the first day of 2026, giving the food industry enough time to adjust.
Sugar and salt packages will also be exempt because the government said it would be redundant.