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Orange juice may get squeezed out of Canada’s revised food guide





Orange juice may not be part of your balanced breakfast much longer, at least according to Canada’s Food Guide.

Health Canada is proposing a change to a decades-long policy that equated half a glass of 100 per cent juice to a serving of fruits or vegetables.

“Health Canada’s proposed recommendations are for plain water as the beverage of choice, to help reduce sugars intake,” Health Canada spokesperson Geoffroy Legault-Thivierge said in an email to CBC News. 

Critics say there is too much sugar in a glass of juice – even if it’s from natural sources – because a portion contains more fruit than the average person would normally eat in a sitting.

PepsiCo’s Tropicana, for example, has boasted about “squeezing 16 oranges into each 59-ounce [1,700 ml] carton.”

But how many oranges does one person need?

Canada’s Food Guide currently equates a 125 ml serving of 100 per cent juice to one serving of fruit or vegetables. (Health Canada/UN Food and Agriculture Organization)

“Health Canada can say all they want that half a glass of juice [125 ml] is a serving size, but nobody is going to follow that,” said Alissa Hamilton, author of Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Juice

“No consumer considers that a serving … a 12-ounce [355 ml] bottle is what consumers are used to considering as a single serving.”

Beyond portion control, Hamilton said the sugar in juice is digested differently than that of fruit. 

“Whole fruit has fibre, which slows down the metabolism of the sugar,” she said. “When you’re drinking the juice without the fibre, you get an insulin spike, and when you have too much insulin circulating in your blood, that’s a precursor to diabetes.”

“The other thing about fibre is that it fills you up,” she said. “There’s nothing to fill you up with the juice. In fact, it stimulates appetite, versus fibre, which suppresses appetite.”

Between 2011 and 2017, Canadian consumption of juice reportedly declined 15 per cent. (Jill English/CBC)

Big Juice lobbying efforts

Sylvain Charlebois, a Dalhousie University professor specializing in food policy, said the food guide has an impact on what Canadians eat.

“When you visit faculties or universities where there’s a nutrition program or where we train dietitians … the starting point is the food guide,” he said. “It is a conversation starter when it comes to nutrition and diet.”

As the Globe and Mail reported, the juice industry is fighting to remain part of that conversation, with the Canadian Beverage Association – an organization funded by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo – making its case to federal ministers and decision-makers “more than 50 times” last year. 

“Canadians are not overconsuming 100 per cent juice,” Canadian Juice Council spokesperson Jeff Rutledge said in a statement to CBC News. “Canadians – including children and youth – are already not meeting minimum recommended intakes for fruits and vegetables. 100 per cent juice can play a key role in helping to meet daily nutrient requirements.” 

Food distribution and policy expert Sylvain Charlebois says Canadians’ nutritional decisions are affected by the food guide. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Consumers a step ahead

But the proposed new food guide is actually mirroring existing consumer behaviour. 

Between 2011 and 2017, market intelligence agency Mintel reports Canadian consumption of juice went down 15 per cent.

Food and beverage industry analyst Joel Gregoire said it can be pegged to concerns about health. 

“Number one I would say is sugar content, and concerns about sugar content,” he said. “If you look over time, attitudes toward sugar have hardened.”

Food and beverage industry analyst Joel Gregoire says Canadians have changed their approach to juice consumption due to health concerns. (Jean-François Bisson/CBC)

Light on fruit

Those attitudes aren’t hurting all juice-makers. 

It’s actually helped Toronto juice entrepreneurs Emma Knight, Anthony Green and Hana James.

Emma Knight, Co-founder of Greenhouse Juice Co., says their most popular juices supplement sugary fruits with vegetables. (Jill English/CBC)

Their Greenhouse Juice Co. is capitalizing on reducing sugary fruits in their cold-pressed juices, and supplementing them – or sometimes replacing them entirely – with vegetables. 

“In our most popular juices, vegetables really form the core of the juice,” Knight said.

She said Greenhouse supports the principles of the proposed new food guide, even if it means removing juice.

“We would never advocate taking fibre out of your diet,” she said.

“Juice, as a companion to that, is a really cool way to get more of the nutrients from vegetables into your day.”

The new version of Canada’s Food Guide is expected to be finalized later this year.

With files with David Common


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Ottawa unveils funding for poultry and egg farmers hurt by free-trade deals





Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share due to two recent free-trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada’s agriculture minister announced Saturday.

Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference.

“Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow,” she said.

The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free-trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.

The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.

But on Saturday, Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years — beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.

Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year.

Payments based on formulas

David Wiens, vice-president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future.

“I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on,” he said.

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Employee of Ottawa Metro store tests positive for COVID-19





Metro says an employee of its grocery store on Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

The company says the employee’s positive test result was reported on Nov. 25. The employee had last been at work at the Metro at 50 Beechwood Ave. on Nov. 19.

Earlier this month, Metro reported several cases of COVID-19 at its warehouse on Old Innes Road.

Positive test results were reported on Nov. 2, Nov. 6, Nov. 11, and Nov. 19. The first two employees worked at the produce warehouse at 1184 Old Innes Rd. The other two worked at the distribution centre at the same address.

Metro lists cases of COVID-19 in employees of its stores and warehouses on its website

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Tinseltown: Where 50-year-old ‘tough guys’ become youngsters again





Audy Czigler wears glitter like a Pennsylvania miner wears coal dust. It’s on his face and hands, in his hair and on his clothing. It’s an occupational hazard that he says he just can’t get rid of.

And when he’s sifting through job applications from people wanting to work at his Tinseltown Christmas Emporium on Somerset Street W. in Hintonburg, the glitter is a consideration. For he’s not looking for people who can simply endure it; no, he’s screening for people who revel and carouse in glitter, for those for whom the 10,000th playing of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is as refreshing as the first, for those who believe that the 12 days of Christmas last 365 days a year. The believers.

Sure, he has heard the voices of skeptical passersby on the sidewalk outside his shop, especially in the summer months when visions of sugarplums have receded from many people’s minds.

“I hear them out there a few times a day,” he says, “wondering how a Christmas store can possibly survive year-round.

“I want to go out and tell them,” he adds, but his voice trails off as a customer approaches and asks about an ornament she saw there recently, of a red cardinal in a white heart. Where is it?

There’s scant room for sidewalk skeptics now, crowded out by the dozens of shoppers who, since October, have regularly lined up outside the store, patiently biding their time (and flocks) as pandemic-induced regulations limit the shop to 18 customers at a time.

Once inside, visitors will be forgiven for not first noticing the glitter, or even the rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside playing on the speakers. For there’s no specific “first thing” you notice. The first thing you notice is EVERYTHING — a floor-to-ceiling cornucopia of festivity, reminiscent perhaps of how the blind man in the Gospel of John may have felt when Jesus rubbed spit and mud in his eyes and gave him sight for the first time.

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