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Canadian Public Health Association

Inside the fight to label sugary, salty and fatty foods in Canada

Ann Hui

News Source

The Globe and Mail


Toronto, Ontario



The government and health groups were in favour of a simple design, modelled after a "stop" or "yield" sign. They brought up expert after expert who testified to the benefits of a clear, easy-to-understand symbol.

But the food and drink industry reps were not having it. They termed it the "big, scary stop sign" and accused government of trying to "scare" Canadians. At the same time, they argued the designs were patronizing – overly simplistic, and not allowing for nuance or context.

"Frankly, I think taking an approach like this is just not giving Canadians the respect they deserve," said Lewis Retik, a lawyer hired by the food industry to attend the meeting. "They're not idiots."

As Mr. Retik continued to speak, one man who had been listening with growing consternation – Ian Culbert, the head of the Canadian Public Health Association – had heard enough. Video of the meeting shows Mr. Culbert shaking his head and grabbing the microphone to interject. Soon, both men were talking over one another with raised voices.

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