UK food strategy review urges world’s first taxes on sugar and salt

Will Kreznick

A review commissioned by the UK government calls for the world’s first tax on sugar and salt used in food production to break what is called the “junk food cycle” and reduce meat consumption by 30%. .. The second of two reports produced by Henry Dimbleby, chair of the National […]

A review commissioned by the UK government calls for the world’s first tax on sugar and salt used in food production to break what is called the “junk food cycle” and reduce meat consumption by 30%. ..

The second of two reports produced by Henry Dimbleby, chair of the National Food Strategy and co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain, is that the food we eat is “terrible for our planet and our health. It’s damaging. ” He said traditional policy prescriptions, such as exercise encouragement and better food labeling, had little impact on consumer behavior.

Dimbleby’s team, including CEO of take-out chain Greggs and former boss of supermarket Sainsbury’s as advisors, has 3 pounds / kg of sugar wholesale costs and 6 pounds / kg of salt for food production. I proposed a tax. Catering industry.

The funds raised are estimated to be up to £ 3.4 billion annually, suggesting that they can spend on initiatives to increase healthy eating for less wealthy families, such as expanding free school meals.

The collection will increase the cost of Mars Bar, which contains about 30g of sugar, from 65p to 74p. However, Dimbleby said the main purpose is to encourage manufacturers to reduce sugar and salt content, as the existing soft drink tax replaces the new tax. It was.

Introduced in 2018 and widely copied by other countries, this levy is significantly less than the Treasury forecast, primarily due to manufacturers. Remixed drink There was little sugar.

Another recommendation is to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by 30% by 2032. In the same time frame, the meat diet should be reduced by 30% and the intake of high-fat sugar and salt foods should be reduced by a quarter.

“This is not a wish list of ideas we expect to be useful,” says Dimbleby. “These are concrete suggestions for immediate action that we have investigated thoroughly and are confident that they will work.”

Reducing meat consumption is primarily aimed at relieving environmental pressure, not improving health outcomes. However, Dimbleby avoided claiming taxes on meat.

“We soon realized that this was politically impossible. For now, at least. The government has made it a habit for consumers while investing in methane reduction projects and the development of alternative proteins. I believe it’s better to encourage them to change, “he said.

Dimbleby also criticized the government’s approach to signing trade agreements with other countries after Britain left the EU.

“The direction of trade means that the government not only breaks its manifesto commitments, but also undermines the great efforts it makes domestically to mitigate climate change, restore nature and improve animal welfare. Seems to be heading towards, “he said.

Health and environmental activists widely welcomed this report. Christina Marriott, CEO of the Royal Society for Public Health, said it reflects the need to redesign the food system.

“Society is pushing nutritious products to us at the lowest prices, and for many, it’s the only food option available,” she said. “We need a systematic shift to break this virtuous cycle of poor food and poor health.”

“It can be difficult to swallow,” said Anna Jones, head of forests and food at the UK’s environmental group Greenpeace, while reducing meat consumption.

However, Kate Harriwell, chief scientific officer of the Federation of Food and Beverages, said the proposed tax would “finally affect families who are already struggling to achieve their goals by making food and drink more expensive. Give. “

“These taxes do not drive reform. Food and beverage manufacturers have voluntarily reduced the fat, salt and sugar content of their recipes for decades. .. But beloved products It takes time to change, “she added.

The government is expected to consider Dimbleby’s recommendations during the summer, along with statements from others, and issue a white paper early next year.

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