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Food Taxes Rejected in Favour of Comprehensive Approach to Obesity

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Food Taxes Rejected in Favour of Comprehensive Approach to Obesity

Food Taxes Rejected in Favour of Comprehensive Approach to Obesity
May 10
09:51 2013

Discriminatory food taxes introduced by some EU member states to discourage the consumption of certain foods sidestep the larger challenge of encouraging consumers to adopt healthier lifestyles and pose a risk to the competitiveness of the food and drink industries of the EU, agree EU social partners in the food and drink industry.

In a joint position, Europe’s food industry workers and manufacturers, represented by the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT), and FoodDrinkEurope respectively, oppose discriminatory taxes on foods in favour of broader measures to encourage responsible eating habits and positive behavioural change among consumers in Europe, as it is not just food, but also lifestyle, social conditions and nutrition education that contribute to healthy habits.

The position calls on Europe’s politicians to take a holistic approach to tackling obesity and non-communicable diseases, including promoting nutrition education, supporting those with eating disorders, demanding that all actors throughout the food supply chain take responsibility for promoting healthier food choices, and, finally, addressing the socio-economic obstacles to healthy lifestyles such as low income levels, inequality and social exclusion.

“We must ensure that all Europeans, including low-income earners, can access both a variety of fresh and healthy foods at affordable prices, and knowledge about nutrition and healthy lifestyles,” says Harald Wiedenhofer, EFFAT General Secretary.

FoodDrinkEurope Director General, Mella Frewen, comments: “This joint statement marks an important development for EU social partners in the food and drink industry. It demonstrates their strong alignment that discriminatory taxes on foods are not the solution to help fight obesity and non-communicable diseases.  A more coherent approach is needed, with each actor playing his part, to help create positive behavioural change in consumer habits.”

EU social partners in the food and drink industry note the progress already made by actors along the food and drink supply chain to develop safe, healthy and high quality products, many of which are already available in ‘lighter’ forms or smaller portion sizes for consumers.

Furthermore, Europe’s food and drink industry efforts to continue to develop nutritious products that are accessible and affordable and which carry all necessary information to help consumers make more informed food choices, should be welcomed. This presents a positive opportunity for the industry to innovate, diversify and reformulate its products, thereby enhancing its long-term and global competitiveness.

An additional concern of the industry is that such taxes can promote unfair competition and cross-border shopping, which has been an impetus for the Danish government to recently announce that it will repeal a soft drinks tax that it says is costing the country millions of euros as consumers cross the border to shop in Germany.


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