Beef belongs on the plate in new food guide

Beef remains a part of the revised Canada Food Guide launched today by Health Canada. While Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) welcomes the Food Guide’s promotion of healthy eating and overall nutritional well-being, we are concerned that the Guide downplays the benefits of beef as part of a healthy diet and sustainable environment.
“We recognize that consumers have more protein choices than they have ever had before, but we believe that beef is still a safe, healthy and nutritious protein source,” stated SSGA President Bill Huber. “We encourage people to choose beef which is produced sustainably by thousands of beef producers across Canada.”
A small amount of lean beef can provide high-quality, easily available protein and many other nutrients with relatively few calories.
To get an equal amount of protein from other sources could mean consuming higher volumes and more calories. Moreover, combining beef with recommended servings of vegetables provides a synergetic effect and helps the body absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Beef provides several essential nutrients including high-quality, complete protein, all essential amino acids, readily available iron and zinc, and others such as riboflavin, niacin, selenium and vitamins B6 and B12.
Reducing red meat consumption could put some Canadians at risk of iron, zinc, vitamin B12 deficiencies and inadequate protein intake.
While the Guide references the footprint of food production, it overlooks the many environmental benefits of beef production. Compared to other countries, Canadian beef cattle production has one of the highest levels of sustainability and efficiency and one of the lowest rates of greenhouse gas emissions due to efficient grazing practices and improvements in feed-efficiency. In Canada cattle graze marginal lands unsuitable for producing other food crops and turn it into high quality protein.
“Cattle are also helping to conserve our remaining native grasslands. We’ve lost about 70% of the native grasslands in North America to cultivation and development which has destroyed natural habitat for species at risk and other wildlife,” the SSGA president added.
Through grazing, cattle help preserve the ecosystem function and health, including soil carbon storage, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, water filtration, and nutrient cycling.

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