#Buttergate is kicking off in Canada
And it looks like it's just getting started
"Buttergate" is kicking off in Canada as a growing number of people share their concerns on social media, arguing that their butter is much harder to spread than usual and does not soften at room temperature.
Food experts believe that the way cows are being fed may have something to do with it, while the dairy industry has created a working group to look into the matter, even though various spokespeople for companies in the industry are adamant that these claims are unfounded.
It all started when Canadian cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal took to her Twitter to address the issue. "Have you noticed it's no longer soft at room temperature?" she tweeted. This prompted several home cooks and users to respond sharing similar views.
Ms Van Rosendaal wrote a column in the Globe and Mail last week suggesting that higher demand for butter production may have led to disruptions and changes in livestock feed, thus causing the anomaly. Dairy producers determine production quotas based on demand, which rose by 12% in 2020 as more Canadians stayed home because of the pandemic.
Adding palm oil-based supplements is standard industry practice to increase the milk output of cows as well as the milk's fat content and while consumers indicate that they may have overdone it, the Canada's Dairy Processors Association confirmed that there have been no changes to butter production itself nor national ingredient regulations.
Sylvain Charlebois, Senior Director at Dalhousie University's Agri-Food Analytics Lab, published an opinion piece, arguing that a "Buttergate is not what the industry needs, or what Canadians deserve". Mr Charlebois also said that palm fat is a legal ingredient in dairy cow feed, it is also an "ethically questionable" practice and research show that it might increase heart disease risk in people.
The Dairy Farmers of Canada released a statement to address these claims, stating that palm products "help provide energy to cows and no undesirable effects have been identified arising from its use in cows' feed rations". They added that other countries, including the US and the UK, use these supplements regularly. They concluded by saying that they will nevertheless look into the matter with the help of a committee of experts.