Monday, June 3, 2013

Meat Regs: More at stake than meat

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food ("OMAF") is reviewing their Meat Regulations.  When they held public information meetings on their proposed changes, I attended the Sudbury meeting.  See my previous report after their public information meeting.

I finally finished it and filed Small Flocker's recommendations and comments with OMAF. Small Flocker's comments and recommended improvements on Ontario's current Meat Regulations are available here

Some of the issues I raised are as follows:

Food Borne Illness Outbreaks
Food borne illness in the US is estimated at $77.7 Billion per year.  We might therefore estimate Canada's impact at $7.77 Billion per year, 10% of US total.  Similarly based on US results from CDC, Canadian food borne illness outbreaks (ie. many individuals over a large area affected) from meats and poultry (ie. excludes fish & seafood) probably account for 22% (n=210,000) of the outbreaks, 22% (n= 572) of the resulting hospitalizations, and 29% (n=18) of the deaths.

Sporadic Food Poisoning
Add to the outbreaks described above are the sporadic food borne illnesses (1 or a few people, closely contained). More than 9 million persons each year in the USA have a food borne illness caused by a major pathogen, so Canada probably has 900,000 sporadic illnesses per year.

Poor Diet due to high cost of Meat
There is growing understanding by food nutrition experts  that excess dietary carbohydrates are causing or contributing to significant incidence and prevalence of multiple diseases such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.  See Dr. Lustig here and here, Gary Taubes here, and Dr. Jay Wortman here and CBC Television Documentary here

Health care is more than 40% of Ontario’s Provincial budget, and these dietary influenced diseases are directly and indirectly related to most of these health care costs, possibly up to 70% of these direct and indirect health care costs (ie. 70% of 40%, or a grand total of 28% of Ontario’s budget caused by poor diet).  Ontario’s 2013-2014 budget for healthcare is $48.9 Billion per year.  This total diet-related tax burden is suggested as 70% of this total annual budget, representing $34.23 Billion per year, a significant cost to Ontario.  The cost of food borne illness can be added as well, further raising the stakes.

I suggest that this $34.23+ Billion health care cost trumps the total value-added GDP of $8 Billion per year that is created by Ontario’s meat industry.

If meat protein and the accompanying animal fat is more affordable and available, this can help reduce these food-induced risks and disease burden for Ontario.

When considering the Meat Regulation amendments and these specific recommendation, it is suggested that this indirect cost to Ontario of $34.23 Billion per year be kept in mind.

Meat Export Opportunities
I previously posted about the appalling, weak-kneed meat export business Canada has for chicken.  In 2012, CFC reported that Canada produced 1.0247 Billion kg of chicken, at a price of $1.80/kg or higher.  We calculate a total value of $1.844 Billion.  If OECD exports can allow us to increase our production 5 times 2012 levels, that's an additional $7.378 Billion in GDP for Canada.  Ontario's share would be about 1/3 of this, or $2.46 Billion.  Assuming a 3:1 spin-off effect, that is a total of $7.378 Billion of additional business for Ontario.

Grand Total

When we add up all the above, we get a grand total in excess of $41.61 Billion per year that is directly affected by this Meat Regulation revision process.  I hope OMAF gives it the attention it deserves.

There is more at stake than just meat.

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