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Have Your Say: Canadian Government Might Ban Advertising Cheese To Kids

Animal Justice July 26, 2017

As part of the Healthy Eating Strategy, Health Canada is proposing to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children. Two approaches are being considered:

  • Option 1: banning advertising food to children if it exceeds 5 percent of the daily value of saturated fat, sugars or sodium; or
  • Option 2: banning advertising food to children if it exceeds 15 percent of the daily value of saturated fat, sugars, or sodium.

Under option 1, companies couldn’t advertise sugar-sweetened yogurt, cheese (even if calorie-reduced), or ice cream (among other foods) to children under the age of 17.

Under option 2, companies couldn’t advertise sugar-sweetened yogurt, most cheese, or ice cream to children under the age of 17. However, they would be allowed to advertise calorie-reduced cheese to children.

Tell the government to go with option 1! The dairy industry has successfully duped children and families into believing that cheese, chocolate milk, and sugary yogurt are a healthy and essential part of the human diet. By disguising their marketing as education, Canadian dairy lobbyists have even snuck their commercial interests into schools. In fact, these saturated fat-laden foods compromise health and can contribute to a lifetime of preventable illnesses like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The dairy industry is also heartbreaking for animals. Mother cows endure back-to-back pregnancies, having each of their babies taken away at birth so humans can take the milk instead. The babies are isolated and killed for veal or used as dairy cows themselves. The mothers are genetically selected to produce unnatural quantities of milk, and often suffer from painful infections (mastitis). When their bodies weaken from the demands of constant pregnancies and lactation at only about a quarter of their natural lifespan, the mother cows are killed for hamburger meat.

Currently in Canada, there are no federally regulated restrictions on the marketing of food to children. But building on a strong body of evidence, in 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States, including Canada, released a set of recommendations calling for policies that reduce the impact of marketing to children of foods high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium.

The Healthy Eating Consultations are open until August 14, 2017.

 

Animal Justice

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The CFIA Wants to Make It Easier to Mislead Consumers About Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

Animal Justice February 24, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is overhauling food labelling regulations, which include animal welfare claims on meat, dairy, and egg packaging like “free range” and “grass fed.” But instead of cracking down on the epidemic of false animal welfare claims, the government plans to weaken regulations and introduce new loopholes.

The CFIA wants to make animal welfare and related “consumer values” claims its lowest enforcement priority. In other words, the agency won’t proactively define and regulate claims about how farmed animals are treated, and may not even bother investigating companies for blatantly false animal welfare claims.

Instead, the CFIA wants to make it consumers’ responsibility to contact companies themselves to find out what their animal welfare claims mean. According to the CFIA, industry has a “legal and ethical responsibility” to ensure labelling claims are not misleading. But consumers have no way of verifying information provided by companies, which stand to benefit financially from misleading consumers.

If consumers are concerned about false labelling claims made by companies, the CFIA is proposing that consumers make their complaints directly to the companies themselves. In other words, if a company’s packaging uses misleading imagery or language, consumers have to first complain to the company. The CFIA will only pay attention to a consumer complaint if a company has provided an insufficient response, and will only investigate once multiple complaints are received.

cfia labelling

The CFIA wants to make it consumers’ responsibility to monitor and verify animal welfare claims.

Animal farming is notoriously secretive. It takes place on private property in windowless facilities, with virtually no government oversight. Consumers have no ability to monitor these industries ourselves, which is why we expect our government to step in and protect consumers from being duped by false claims.

Labelling is a crucial component of informed consumer choices. Consumers should be able to rely on the words and images used on labels being accurate and truthful. And in fact, polling shows 82 percent of consumers want clearer animal welfare labelling.

Previous work by Animal Justice has highlighted an epidemic of false animal welfare claims, misinformed consumers, and a nonexistent government response. We’ve filed consumer protection complaints against slaughterhouse Maple Lodge Farms for claiming to treat chickens humanely even while on probation for illegal animal cruelty; against supermarket chain Safeway for marketing chicken meat as “certified humane,” even though birds are crowded in dark barns and deprived of anything that makes life worth living; and against the Dairy Farmers of Canada for running deceptive dairy ads disguised as public health announcements.

Meanwhile, the European Union understands the importance of addressing animal welfare labelling, recognizing that if consumers lack information, “there is very little motivation for more producers to improve animal welfare and market their products accordingly.”

It’s not too late to tell the CFIA to monitor animal welfare labelling claims! Here’s what to do: Simply go to their online survey before March 15. Skip ahead to “Stream 2,” which is 88% of the way through the survey.

For Question 2, select “no.”

For Question 2i), explain that animal farming lacks transparency and government must ensure consumers are able to make informed choices.

For Question 2ii), explain that welfare claims must be regulated, and they must be the responsibility of government (not industry and consumers).

If you’re pressed for time, you could also simply fill in our petition here.

Thank you for taking action for animals.

Image: Egg-laying hens inside a “cage-free” farm, courtesy Direct Action Everywhere.

Animal Justice

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