Reality Check: How Much Meat do Canadians Eat?

Thu, 05 Apr 2018

CANADA - A new analysis of Statistics Canada data shows Canadians are consuming moderate amounts of meat.

On average, Canadians consume 41 grams of cooked fresh meat, such as beef, pork, lamb and veal, a day – that's about half the size of the palm of your hand. They also consume prepared poultry and prepared red meat in modest amounts – 28 grams a day, which is roughly two slices of deli turkey or ham.

"Canadians are consuming red and prepared meat well within Canada's Food Guide recommendations, and are knowledgeable about the essential nutrients that meat provides," said Chris White, President of the Canadian Meat Council.

"Many might be surprised to know that meat consumption in Canada is similar to that found in Mediterranean countries, places where diets are widely recognized as being amongst the healthiest worldwide," he added.

Additional Statistics Canada data collected through 24-hour dietary recalls shows that Canadians are consuming less than one Food Guide serving of red meat and prepared meat/poultry a day. An Ipsos poll conducted in September 2017 of 1,000-plus Canadians complements these findings.

According to the poll 72 per cent of respondents reported to eat three or less servings of meat a week. Encouragingly, three out of four respondents understand the important role that red meat plays in getting essential nutrients for health.

"Canadians understand that meat is nutrient dense and plays a key role in balanced diets and even has benefits when added to diets that are largely plant-based by helping the body absorb nutrients, like iron and zinc," said Mary Ann Binnie, a nutrition expert with the Canadian Meat Council.

Health Canada notes women are at risk of inadequate intakes of iron, zinc and vitamin B12: essential nutrients found in red meat. The analysis from Statistics Canada highlights that a significant number of women consume less than the recommended number of servings for meat and alternatives.

"I encourage Canadians to cook with whole, naturally nutrient-rich foods and eat together as often as possible. For a healthy plate, fill it with half vegetables and fruit, one-quarter protein and one-quarter whole grains. Over the course of the week, aim for lots of variety too," said Carol Harrison, a Canadian Registered Dietitian and founder of Yummy Lunch Club.