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Health Canada to block the rules of food additives

19 June 2009 1,628 views No Comment

Canadians want access to healthier enriched foods but bureaucracy is getting in the way, says a food industry spokesperson.

Speaking at the Food Meets Function conference in London yesterday, Derek Nighbor, of Food and Consumer Products of Canada, said Canadian consumers are interested in health-promoting food such as vitamin-enriched drinks, probiotic yogurt and omega-3 eggs. But, he said, innovation is being held back by Canada’s rigid regulatory system.

“We are falling behind the rest of the world. We have aging, educated consumers who want access to healthier products that are available elsewhere in the world but not here,” he said.

Nighbor cited plant sterols, plant membranes usually derived from soybeans that help lower LDL cholesterol. Sterols are used in Europe and the U.S., but they’re not approved in Canada.

Nighbor said the tight regulations are driving out investment, and frustrating farmers.

Rose Hill, of Willowgrove Hill Farms near Mitchell, was one of the exhibitors at the event. The swine operation has produced its own pork product enriched with DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. Hill said getting approval for the enriched pork was not difficult, but the farm has to be careful making any health claims about its products.

Ariel Fenster, a professor at McGill University, said “functional foods” such as iodized salt and vitamin-enriched bread have been around for decades.

He said scientists are still sorting out the benefits of new products such as omega-3, probiotics and antioxidants. Eating a balanced diet is still the best strategy, he added.

Fenster said consumers have become confused by a barrage of conflicting claims about the safety and health benefits of certain foods. “There always seems to be the scare of the week and the miracle of the week,” he said.

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