The Health Canada report, released this week, showed that lean red meat was included in the Protein Foods category of healthy foods.
Reacting to the report, the Canadian Pork Council said Canadians could feel good about eating meat, such as pork, due to the health benefits.
“We are privileged to be able to choose among a wide variety of affordable protein sources, but some protein sources, like pork, are more efficient at delivering health benefits,” said Canadian Pork Council’s nutrition manager Mary Ann Binnie.
The Canadian Meat Council also echoed the pork council’s views stating that a quarter of dinner plates should contain protein.
“The visual may have changed, but the advice to enjoy lean red meat with lots of vegetables, fruit and whole grains remains the same as previous iterations of the Food Guide,” said Canadian Meat Council’s CEO Chris White.
“It’s refreshing that the Food Guide is focusing on how to eat, not just what to eat.”
However, the report outlined that many of the well-studied healthy eating patterns included plant-based proteins. This prompted concerns from the Canadian Pork Council that the country might interpret the guide as a recommendation to reduce meat consumption in favour of plant-based proteins.
According to the Canadian Pork Council, Canadians – especially women and older adults – do not consume enough important nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin B12, the latter only being found in meat. It added that further reductions in red meat consumption by these individuals could lead to deficiencies, affecting mental health, energy levels and infant birth weight.
“It is important to note that plant and animal proteins are not equivalent. Each has a unique nutrient package,” added Ann Binnie. “Pork contains all the amino acids you need along with many B vitamins, iron, zinc and other essential nutrients needed to grow and repair our bodies.”
Last year, the University of Colorado published a report encouraging parents to introduce pork in an infant’s diet when transitioning to solid foods due to its “important source of protein”.