Intense Lobbying Blocked Canadian Food Marketing Law

March 24, 2021
The food industry overwhelmed the government of Canada with lobbyists to stop a measure that would inhibit their ability to market to children.

The food industry overwhelmed the government of Canada with lobbyists to stop a measure that would inhibit their ability to market to children, a University of Toronto study has found.

More than 80% of all meetings, correspondence and other lobbying during the fight over the Child Health Protection Act in 2019 were initiated by industry. That holds true even when the focus is narrowed to high-level contacts with members of parliament and other government officials.

The Child Health Protection Act, also known as S-228, would have placed restrictions on advertising foods high in salt, sugar or fat to children under 12. It unanimously passed Canada’s Senate in 2017 and passed the House of Commons in September 2018. However, the two versions of the bill were never reconciled due to procedural stalls that prevented a final Senate vote.

The University of Toronto study found that the overwhelming majority of contacts related to S-228 were from industry representatives against it, as opposed to nongovernmental organizations and others favoring it.

"Industry interacted with government much more often, more broadly, and with higher ranking offices than non-industry representatives in discussions of children's marketing and Bill S-228," said Mary L’Abbé, a University of Toronto processor and one of the study’s authors.

Similar lobbying has blocked efforts to put nutritional information on the front of food and beverage packages, L’Abbé said.

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