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Health Canada exempts ground meat from special labeling

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Health Canada announced that it won’t label ground pork and beef the same way it does other packaged foods such as potato chips — a move that comes much to the relief of the nation’s meat producers.

Items with over 15 percent of the daily recommended intake for sodium, sugars, and saturated fat were slated to be labeled by January 2026. Exemptions from the new labeling system are now provided for raw, single-ingredient products such as meat, butter, sugar, salt, plain milk, and plain yogurt.

Meat producers in Canada opposed these labeling requirements, which would have put a magnifying glass symbol on a front-label system for products high in saturated fats, sugar, or salt. This labeling system could have deterred customers from purchasing these single-ingredient agricultural products.

Chris White, president and CEO of the Canadian Meat Council, said in a statement: “CMC is pleased that Health Canada is exempting ground meat like most other countries. This exemption will ensure that our members can continue to export their products without additional challenges, allowing us to keep feeding the world and Canadians with our world-class protein.”

Upon considering the labeling system, Health Canada claimed that the labels intended to help reduce health risks to consumers. While whole cuts of pork and beef were initially exempt, the ground products were not, even though much of the fat in these products is cooked off during preparation.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said that nearly 50 percent of the beef consumed by Canadians was ground beef, while over 90 percent of Canadians consume ground beef weekly. The consumption of wholesome products such as ground pork and beef pales compared to the amount of ultra-processed foods that Canadians eat daily. In 2019, just under half of Canadians’ daily energy consumed came from ultra-processed foods. (The NOVA classification system recognizes the ultra-classified designation.)

Products identified as ultra-classified are soft drinks, instant noodles, cookies, snacks, fast foods, and frozen meals.

“We’re pleased Health Canada is exempting ground pork along with other nutritious foods such as milk, eggs, vegetables and fruit from a front-of-package label. Ground pork is a convenient, whole food that contributes essential nutrients many Canadians need more of in their diets,” says Rick Bergmann, chair of the Canadian Pork Council.

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