March 12, 2004


Larry McCormick


Mr. Larry McCormick (Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague on the other side of the House for bringing forward Bill C-340.

At the beginning of his speech, the member asked members on all sides of the House to support his bill. I will support the bill but my first support goes to the industry and the producers. Dairy producers in Canada give us the finest and the best product possible in the world, and it costs the government nothing. Supply management is the backbone of rural and small town Canada.

I had the opportunity to meet with the Dairy Farmers of Canada, dairy farmers in Ontario and people in my own riding of Hastings--Frontenac--Lennox and Addington. In the next couple of weeks the national Holstein convention for Canada will be held in Kingston.

I know the bill's intent is good and I personally will recommend that we adopt the bill and send it to committee. However I think some changes need to be made in terms of the language. I want the people at Agriculture Canada to look at the bill. We need to learn from this and move with it. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has done a lot of studies. It has talked with people and partners in the industry. It is looking at applying this to all types of food, and that is fine.

My colleague has done a good job with the bill. He has met with the past president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada who I believe is from the Prince Albert area of his riding.

I would like to know if l my colleague will work with us because I would like to work with the industry. I would like to see the legislation go to the all party Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food so it can be fine-tuned. We need to support our producers and we have seen that with the meat industry and BSE where the industries are still thriving but our producers deserve our attention.

Will my colleague work with us and the industry to see if we can improve on the legislation?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

Maurice Vellacott

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Maurice Vellacott

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for providing me with his assurance that he will work within his party to encourage others to support the bill. I appreciate that. I think there is some evidence of support from all parties on this legislation.

I definitely concede the fact that we need to have discussions and debate in committee in terms of adjusting and tweaking the bill because it would affect all Canadians. Yes, some areas of the country have more dairy industries than others. Leo Bertoia, from Langham in my riding of Saskatoon--Wanuskewin, and other good folks have related their concerns and frustrations with regard to why we need a bill of this nature.

With the expression of goodwill from the member across the way, I would ask for unanimous consent to send the bill directly to committee so we can have those very worthwhile discussions and get the bill adjusted and tweaked.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member have the consent of the House?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

Some hon. members


Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

Some hon. members


Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

Mark Eyking


Hon. Mark Eyking (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is good to see many people in the House concerned about the dairy industry.

I am pleased to rise today to debate Bill C-340, the dairy terms act, as proposed by my colleague, the hon. member for Saskatoon--Wanuskewin. The issue, a very important one today, is food labelling.

The hon. member has raised some very important points about labelling of dairy and dairy food products, valid points that are shared by dairy industry producers and by me. I would like to tell members that I have many dairy farms in my riding and I also have a very large dairy processing plant, so this is very important to me too.

A number of questions can be asked about dairy terms on labels of foods that may contain little or no dairy products. What about a product that claims to taste buttery but has no butter? What if it has a butter flavour?

I understand that dairy producers feel that the current federal labelling regulations are not adequate for protecting dairy products. Many dairy farmers in my riding have brought this up to me. They are concerned about the ability of existing federal legislation to protect their interests with respect to the use of dairy terminology on non-dairy foods. Their concerns are legitimate and our government is working toward a solution that will help address this issue.

I will explain more on that in a moment, but this issue is larger than just dairy products. Yes, the Government of Canada wants a solution for dairy, but we need a solution for all natural products.

There are three points that we must keep in mind during this debate.

First, there are many stakeholders who have an interest in how ingredients are represented on labels. Among these stakeholders are the food processors, importers, retailers and industry associates, to name just a few. There are other issues that stakeholders want to consider when it comes to product labelling. These issues include constraints of innovation, significant additional costs and administrative burden on our industry.

Second, the labelling of food products has repercussions on international trade. Any changes to the labelling of products must be consistent with our obligations under NAFTA and also the WTO, for example.

Third, there are other food producers that are also concerned that labels on food may refer to ingredients and flavours that have little or no connection to the actual product. What about maple flavoured products that have no maple, or honey flavoured without honey, or even chocolate flavoured without chocolate? We cannot regard the issues raised by the dairy terms act in isolation from similar concerns about other kinds of food products.

As members can see, this is a very complex issue and the government is taking it very seriously. In fact, the CFIA is seeking a solution to address labelling for all food products. It seeks to give consumers products that are labelled in such a way that consumers can make informed decisions. The CFIA has been consulting on proposals for highlighted ingredients and flavours, which would be applied to all types of ingredients and foods.

Consultations took place between January and April of last year and again between July and September. There were also two more workshops held on labelling issues, last November in Toronto and again in January in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. In addition, CFIA has conducted bilateral meetings with stakeholders and has commissioned a consumer survey, because at the end of the day we have to sell our products to the consumer.

In other words, the government is already proceeding in a very thorough and methodical fashion to address the clarification of food labelling in the broader context of labelling of all food products, not just dairy products.

To launch this first consultation, the CFIA released a discussion paper addressing the broad spectrum of food labelling issues. The discussion paper contained three proposals that address the same types of issues raised by the proposed bill from the hon. member.

First, when ingredients or components are highlighted, whether a high or low amounts, a percentage of the ingredient as added into the food must be declared either on the front panel or ingredients list.

Second, when the highlighted ingredient is a flavour or an artificial flavour, the words “flavour” or “artificial flavour” must appear adjacent to the named flavour. Let me give an example: “butter flavour” or “artificial butter flavour”.

Third, when an ingredient or a component name is used to describe the sensory characteristic of a food, that special characteristic must be stated adjacent to the description, for example, “creamy texture”.

In an analysis of this discussion paper and subsequent consultations, the CFIA heard many different points of view. It received input and advice from food processors and from the producers, of course, and from importers, distributors, industry associations, provincial governments, health professional associations, and also consumer associations and the consumers themselves.

In other words, the solutions that will emerge from this process will be built upon a wide consensus among different stakeholders involved. These consultations may result in changes to labelling policies through regulatory amendment, but these changes have not yet been finalized. It is a work in progress.

The challenge is to clarify food labelling rules without creating a proliferation of acts and regulations each designed to address a different food. Today it is the dairy terms act. What will it be tomorrow? The maple terms act? Or the honey terms act or the meat terms act?

CFIA's approach is in keeping with the Government of Canada's policy on smart regulation. What we should create is a regulatory process that results in the greatest net benefit to farmers and Canadian society while weighing the benefits of alternatives to regulation.

The process is now in place to improve product labelling systematically. It is open to the public for input. It puts forward proposals that would be in keeping with the current standards of labelling of prepackaged foods. The hon. member mentioned the international tests. We always have to keep that in mind.

The hon. member has put forward this bill with the support of dairy producers. I think it is a very good gesture in itself. Despite their active involvement in the consultation process on this issue with CFIA, it would appear that the dairy producers want to push for a stronger mechanism for additional protection for dairy terms according to their own priorities.

We cannot have it both ways. We cannot push for a balanced, thorough approach of labelling food as represented by the consultation process and at the same time pass the bill before us today.

I thank the member very much for bringing this up and for speaking on behalf of dairy farmers and bringing this forward in the House. For my part, I stand by the process that we have in place and the solutions that are going to be passed through CFIA, a process that has dairy producer associations very much as participants.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the current CFIA approach to address food labelling, which means they should join with me in voting against the bill.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

Mario Laframboise

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-340 after the speech the parliamentary secretary just delivered.

I can appreciate that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency wants to label all food across Canada, I have no problem with that, but this bill is seeking to legislate one of the oldest products around. We have all consumed milk in our lives; I think milk is one of the sources of life. We are not talking about just any product.

I would say to the parliamentary secretary that there are so many stakeholders in the entire food chain, so many producers and ways of doing things that these days, butter is no longer butter, milk is no longer milk and cheese is no longer cheese. That is the reality. The only thing the dairy industry wants is to say that milk is milk, cream is cream and cheese is cheese. It is easy to understand. Let us get this in writing and require all producers in Canada, all those who want to sell products, to comply with the regulations. The bill is straightforward.

I support the parliamentary secretary and the government in their desire to see all foods labelled in Canada. But there is one obvious instance. The dairy industry spends $75 million annually in order to get milk back to being milk, butter back to butter, and cheese to cheese. These efforts are all being undone by the industries that make use of substitutes, often chemical in nature, to give the same taste. It is as simple as that.

The bill is straightforward. Its purpose is set out in clause 3:

The purpose of this Act is to ensure that food is described or presented in such a manner as to ensure the correct use of dairy terms intended for milk and milk products, to protect consumers from being confused or misled and to ensure fair practices in the food trade.

Quite simply, it is a matter of keeping milk as milk, cream as cream, butter as butter.

As for the application:

This Act applies to all food marketed for human consumption in Canada.

In other words, anyone wishing to use dairy terms must have dairy products. It is as simple as that.

Then there is the prohibition, because obviously the purpose of the act is to prohibit something:

No person shall manufacture, offer for sale, sell, market or advertise for sale any food to which this Act applies, if it is described in amanner contrary to this Act.

People may make statements here in the House, but if someone claims to have buttered popcorn and there is no butter on it, I have a problem with that, as most other people would.

A survey was carried out in Quebec by the Union des producteurs agricoles which showed that the majority of Quebeckers expect to find dairy products in something using the words “milk”, “cream” or “butter”. That is something everyone expects.

Nevertheless, companies decide to save money by trying to achieve the same taste with derivatives and chemical products. That is a reality. Why does the government not want to get involved in this regulation today? To protect the segment of the food industry that is using improper terms to make money. It is as simple as that.

Clearly, the Bloc Quebecois is completely opposed to this. There are farmers who are currently fighting for survival, given all the problems they face. All this bill is asking the government to do is set restrictions on these things. In other words, restrict industry from using dairy terms for products that are not dairy products.

There is no cost to anyone. It is solely a bill that we, as legislators, can vote on in the House.

Part of what members do is make laws. It is hard to understand that today the Liberal government, through the parliamentary secretary, has just stated that we would have to wait until the Canadian Food Inspection Agency passes legislation on labelling for all products in Canada. I have a problem with this. This means that this issue will never be resolved because it will take years.

A Liberal colleague made a suggestion earlier. This bill, which targets a specific type of product, dairy products, needs to go to committee for consideration and consultation with the industry stakeholders. They can come tell us why we should not do this.

I want to give an example, because we know that one of the major problems is that producers and often processors will use a term, such as “ice cream”, when no cream is used. Often, milk is used. So, it is ice milk, not ice cream.

Furthermore, chemicals are frequently used to make ice cream, so it really is not ice cream at all. Many people listening think that when they eat ice cream they are eating cream. But they are not.

All we want is to ensure that the product label and advertising reflect the ingredients used to produce that product. It is as simple as that. That is the aim of this bill.

To this end, there are even some exceptions allowed. For the benefit of everyone listening, I am referring to clause 6(8). Exceptions include all generally recognized products, such as peanut butter.

Why do we call it “butter? It is because it has the texture of butter. No one in the House wants to prevent peanut butter manufacturers from using the term “peanut butter”.

However, what we do not want is for terms to be used for items that are not found in the composition of the products. I will give some examples: chocolate cream pie without cream; butter cream glaze without butter; buttered popcorn without butter; ice cream without cream. These are things we want to avoid. It is as simple as that. It is easy to understand.

I have a problem with the government telling us that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is looking at a global labelling method for all products. I would not mind, but in the meantime, our dairy farmers are spending $75 million a year on advertising their products only to be outdone by manufacturers who do not hesitate to use dairy terms.

I would like to reiterate that milk is a raw commodity. We have all consumed milk in our lives. We are not about to start comparing this product with all other products. We are inundated with products. Hon. members know that all sorts of things come on the market.

That is why labelling is very important. There are GMOs and all sorts of other things. One day we will have to be able—and I agree with the government on this—to label all the products that turn up in our stores and on our shelves.

However, no one can tell me that milk is not a product that we know. We all have drunk milk at least once in our life. Think about it. Perhaps the hon. members do not remember, but it is clear that we have all drunk milk.

Obviously the bill before us today sets some things straight, because, in fact, too many middlemen and industrialists use these terms to make money. These terms do not reflect reality.

In this respect, if only for the sake of mothers and children, we must at least try to raise the next generation by telling them,“No one has the right anymore to tell you things that are unrealistic or untrue”. When the word “dairy” is used, it will be because there is truly a milk component present in the product.

I hope that I will be one of those who has a chance to vote in favour of this bill and will be able to say to his children and grandchildren, “For several generations, we were pushed around by industry, which tried to use by-products to make its incredible profits”.

Therefore, we can set this right again. It would be one good thing we could do for the dairy industry, children and mothers, so that everyone listening to us and everyone who comes after us, will understand that the members of this House decided that, in the dairy industry, when a product is sold as a milk product is must truly be a milk-based product.

Therefore I am pleased to state that the Bloc Quebecois will vote in favour of this bill.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

Don Boudria


Hon. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say a few words about this bill.

First, I want to dissociate myself from the remarks we just heard, which I do not find very kind—in fact I find them rather harsh—toward Canada's food processing industry.

This is a very important industry, in the dairy sector and in other sectors. We know the companies located in our region, be it the Saint-Albert Cheese Factory, in my riding, or others such as Ault Foods, elsewhere. These are important industries in our country, and I think they have a very good reputation as regards food safety, ethics and so on. I do not feel that they deserve to hear such criticism.

Second, it must be recognized that several shareholders in the agri-food industry are farmers themselves. There are a number of cooperatives. Take for example one of the largest ones in the country. We know it well, because it is located in Quebec. Earlier, I mentioned cooperatives in my riding, such as the Saint-Albert Cheese Factory, or others elsewhere in the country.

So, one should avoid making such gratuitous accusations about the food processing industry.

This whole food labelling issue is not a simple one. Like others here, I grew up in the days when we used Beehive syrup, with a beehive on the bottle. Yet, as far as I know, Beehive syrup does not have any honey in it. It is made with corn extract, not honey extract. If there is honey in it, there is not much. In fact, there is probably none at all.

This is just an example.

I was raised in a household where there always was a brown can of maple spread in front of us. I do not even know whether that spread contains any maple syrup at all. I suspect it probably does not or not very much. It is maple flavoured or something like that. Maybe it has a little bit of maple syrup but probably not much. It is a form of caramel with seasoning. I think I have eaten enough of it to remember the taste, although it has been a long time since I ate that stuff.

The hon. member is telling us that the industry got me to eat a product using misrepresentation. When I was 7, 8 or 10 years old and I ate a product called “maple spread”, I did not eat it because it contained maple syrup. I ate it, as one might guess, because I thought it was good. That was why we ate that product.

That said, the hon. member opposite has made some good points about a certain number of issues. For example, when one goes to the grocery store, I think it is abnormal, and the dairy producers in my riding are always asking me this question, that in all the big supermarkets there is a big refrigerator with a sign saying “Dairy products” and that the margarine is always in there. But we know that margarine is not a dairy product. And in the flyers and the newspaper ads, as well as in the supermarket counters, this product is found in the dairy section.

It is arranged so that those who might usually buy a dairy product will perhaps be tempted to take the other product right next to it. In such a case, there is at least an attempt to get consumers to buy a product that is not the one they wanted.

On the other hand, we often find eggs in the dairy counter. I do not know anyone who could confuse eggs with butter. In that case, it is obvious that there is no attempt to confuse the consumer. Sometimes there is such an intention and sometimes not.

A little earlier I was pondering with some colleagues as to whether or not butterball turkeys contained butter. There are a number of other such questions that create confusion with the consumer. If it does, well all the better, but it is not always obvious that it does. To that extent I give credit to the MP for raising the issue and bringing it to our attention.

I am told that some of the bill's clauses, as they are currently worded, can produce the opposite effect to that intended by the hon. member across the way.

The department's experts have advised me, for example, that the terms “artificial butter flavour” and “imitation cheese” will not be allowed. I agree. However, from what I am told, the use of terms such as “butter flavoured” would also be restricted. It may be going too far to restrict the use of “butter flavoured” to describe a product containing natural butter extract. Perhaps that was not the intention when the bill was drafted; nevertheless, experts conclude that this is the effect of the bill.

The parliamentary secretary has taken a positive approach in his suggestion today. This is not a dilatory approach, as the member opposite said.

The government is not promising to undertake a study on packaging and labelling at a later date. It will not happen at a later date; consultations are underway as we speak. During the consultations, 2,000 adults were surveyed. According to the experts in this field, the accuracy rate is 95%.

We hold these consultations on the content of various food products. It would be important, in all of our undertakings, not to do anything to harm the food processing industry, and even less so the dairy farmers of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, and Stormont—Dundas—Charlottenburgh, soon to become Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, or anywhere else. Our primary interest must be to protect farmers, as well as consumers, and we also need the consumer's support for what we are doing.

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has said that the dairy industry spends a great deal of money on promoting its products. He claimed that the main reason for doing so was to counteract the bad guys in the food processing industry.

I do not feel that is their main objective. As far as I know, their campaign is to make the consumer realize that what we were told in past years was incorrect, for instance that eating a lot of cheese or other dairy products was somehow bad for the health. Now we know that was far from correct. We know that some of the fats people have been eating in substitutes for butter or other dairy products are very bad for us, and that in fact dairy products hove some very beneficial effects.

All this to say that the campaign run by dairy producers seeks to inform the public and increase the consumption of their products which, in my opinion, are excellent. To claim that if we eat cheese we will all end up weighing 150 kilograms is not necessarily true. If this were the case, I would be very heavy, because I probably eat more cheese than most hon. members do. My colleagues are always teasing me about my dairy product consumption, particularly cheese, which I eat in very large quantities.

The things that we were told in the past are not necessarily true and the dairy industry knows that. It has quite rightly decided to inform consumers about the very high quality of its products, and I support this initiative.

Also, the dairy industry just went through some very difficult times. I mentioned this this morning in the House. During oral question period, I raised the issue that prices for culled cows or even heifers are terrible. We must support the agricultural community in this regard.

If the bill is reviewed in committee, some major amendments will be necessary. We must protect our producers, but we must also preserve consumers' confidence, because we want them to buy the excellent food items made by dairy producers from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and elsewhere.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

Wendy Lill

New Democratic Party

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to participate in this debate today and to listen to the comments made by members.

It is a very interesting topic to think about such things as milk and dairy products. These are products that are the stuff of life that we have all grown up with, and to realize that there is a discrepancy and confusion sometimes about what terms are being used and what the foods really are that we are seeing in the grocery stores.

I just read a book called Fast Food Nation . It is an interesting look at fast foods, but also the whole flavouring industry, and the chemical creation of taste, flavours and scents that are overtaking our food industry. Therefore, it is not at all unreasonable for us to be asking, what is it that we are eating? I think that is the question that the member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin is trying to get at and I support his efforts in that respect.

My colleagues and I in the NDP believe that fair labelling practices are important for today's Canadian families who have a bewildering array of products facing them during every trip to the supermarket. The average supermarket today has over 35,000 products, which is an incredible number.

Whether we actually benefit from that enormous choice and whether the quality of our lives has been improved by the kind of choice is another debate and we are not going to talk about it here. However, it does lead families and shoppers to want to have accurate labelling on products so that they can make decisions about what foods they are buying. With so many products, the average shopper cannot hope to scan each and every one of them before making their purchasing decisions.

This bill would provide consumers with accurate information on the ingredients of the products they choose. Consumers depend on the name of a product to decide if it is something they want since most lists of ingredients are small and written in common terms using words like hydrogenated and disodium phosphate. These are confusing technical terms that people do not understand. They want to have faith in the labelling and do not want to be misled.

New Democrats are also concerned about the impact that labelling can have on Canadians with low literacy skills. Misleading product names can prove especially confusing for people who are not able to get through the language as easily. They depend on words they know to make purchasing decisions. Also, seniors and other Canadians with low vision depend on the larger fonts of product names instead of the smaller fonts of ingredient listings to make their decisions.

Therefore, when they see the word dairy, milk or cheese, they get a comfort level from that and that helps them make a decision. In fact, we must ensure that they are not being bamboozled and that, in fact, it is a true representation of what they are buying.

My colleague from Winnipeg North Centre has a private member's bill before the House on food labelling. That bill's intent is to ensure that consumers will know whether a product has genetically modified ingredients before they make purchasing decisions. It is another fair practice that Canadians want so that they can trust in the product that they are buying.

As the member who brought forward the bill has mentioned, at the present time federal legislation does not have adequate protection for the use of dairy terms and that is just not acceptable. For example, the Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act prohibit false and misleading labels, but what constitutes false and misleading labels in the dairy context is not fleshed out.

The dairy products regulations made under the Canada Agricultural Products Act do contain labelling requirements, but these only apply to standardized dairy products, for example what has to be on the label of cheddar cheese once it has met the standard. Federal legislation does not deal with the issue of the improper use of dairy terms and images on imitations or on substitutes.

Each year, Canada's dairy producers spend over $75 million advertising dairy products and promoting the nutritional benefits of dairy products. The good reputation and nutritional value of dairy products is being usurped by products which claim to have the same qualities as dairy products but which do not.

As I understand from my colleague from Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, the dairy terms act embodies the principles that were adopted at the international level by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1999 in the general standard for the use of dairy terms. Canada supported this standard at the international level. Canada should provide that same level of protection for dairy terms at the domestic level. It seems very straightforward to me.

Most important, the bill prohibits a dairy term from being used when a food or an ingredient in a food is intended to replace a dairy product or a dairy ingredient. It prohibits using a dairy term in conjunction with the words “flavour” or “taste” when the food is not milk, a milk product or a composite milk product.

The dairy terms act deals with the correct use of dairy terms in the marketing of food. It does not prohibit food from being made.

I support this bill. I support efforts always to clarify language and clarify the meaning of language. I support any efforts to make it easier, not more difficult, for citizens to understand the nutritional value of the foods and beverages that they are buying in the supermarket. I will be supporting this bill when it comes to a vote.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

Marlene Catterall


Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, although I know it is against all the rules, I have to note the absence of the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, who could not wait to leave the House because there is cheese in the lobby, and cheese does not last long when the member is around. I have the same fondness for milk and I have absolutely no interest in drinking something that pretends it is milk or is like milk.

I think all of us are much more aware of what we eat and how it affects our health, not only immediately but over the long term. A good part of that is wanting to know what is in the food we are eating, what really is behind what it may appear to be, what it may be coloured to look like or what it may be described as.

There is certainly a very strong interest in the public in knowing what is in the food we are buying, as there is for me. Labelling is a very important component of that. I recognize how extremely important the dairy industry is to the country. It is an industry that produces $4.1 billion worth of farm cash receipts in a year. It accounts for nearly 14% of all processing sales in the food and beverage industry. It employs 38,000 people on farms and another 26,000 workers at the primary processing level, and it imposes strict quality standards at both the farm and processing levels so that we are assured of quality food when we buy dairy products.

However, the bill would affect more than the dairy industry. It would affect other areas of the agrifood industry. It relates to how the industry develops new products. It may in fact limit some of the potential for innovation in the agrifood industry as a whole. Because it is not only the dairy industry that would be affected by the results of the bill, I would suggest that the approach taken by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, that is, to look at labelling more broadly and to consult with processors, consumers and other segments of the food and agrifood industry, is perhaps the more responsible one to take.

In fact, that approach would take into consideration a number of different points of view and different interests that would be affected by the content and the intent of the bill. It would indeed move toward responsible and honest labelling of food, but in a way that does not favour one segment of the industry over the other, that does not go so far in protecting one industry that it may harm others and may in fact go beyond what is needed for the kind of accurate and fair information that consumers are looking for in their packaging.

I do applaud the intent of the bill. However, I do think it is important that we look more broadly at the issue of labelling food and not have a number of bills coming forward to deal with this sector of the agrifood industry and another bill dealing with another so that we would have a mishmash of labelling requirements that may in fact run contrary to one another.

I do believe in the approach the agency is taking in trying to bring all these requirements together in order to bring forward something that is comprehensive and integrated and also respects the kind of information consumers want as to nutritional value, fatty content and all the other things we have started taking an interest in, both for our own personal health and for the health of the generations to come.

I believe that a broader approach is needed here. It may take a little more time but I think the end product will be much more to the benefit of the dairy industry, of consumers and of the agrifood industry in Canada as a whole.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

It being 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday March 22 at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28 and 24.

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Dairy Terms Act

March 12, 2004