In November 2016, Animal Justice filed a legal complaint with authorities over a misleading ad campaign that suggested that consuming of dairy is essential for human health. The ads, sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, were crafted to appear as public health announcements by several health organizations, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Osteoperosis Canada, and Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. Disturbingly, the ads told Canadians to consume dairy to prevent osteoporosis, colorectal cancer, and hypertension.
According to Dietitians of Canada, it is not necessary to consume fluid cow’s milk, yogurt, or cheese to avoid colorectal cancer, osteoporosis, or heart disease. On the contrary, Dietitians of Canada states that a vegan diet, without dairy, “has many health benefits including lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.”
Dr. Walter Willet, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, observes that high dairy intake is not beneficial and may even be harmful. According to Dr. Willet, high dairy consumption is associated with increased risk of prostate and ovarian cancer.
Animal Justice filed its false advertising complaint with the Competition Bureau, which is responsible for curbing fake marketing. Food ads must be truthful so consumers can avoid food fraud and make informed choices. Last year, the Competition Bureau opened an inquiry into the dairy ads. However, Animal Justice just received bad news—the Commissioner of Competition dropped the inquiry.
Laws protecting farmed animals in Canada are weak or often don’t exist in the first place. Even when laws offer some protections to animals, they are badly under-enforced. That’s why Animal Justice lawyers get creative to protect animals. We use false advertising laws to crack down on the meat, dairy, and egg industries. We’re dismayed that our legal complaints have not resulted in justice.
But we’re not ready to give up. Next, we’ll file requests under freedom of information legislation to find out why authorities fail to act. As long as farmed animals are confined in appalling conditions and food companies get away with lying about their products, we will use whatever legal tools are available to fight for animals.
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