Denmark – known for its propensity for fatty, rich foods – will now require its residents to pay a bit more for the privilege of tucking into chips and fried foods. A so-called “fat tax” has been enacted by Denmark´s outgoing government in a bid to limit the population´s intake of fatty foods, The Guardian is reporting.
Everything from milk to oils, meats and pre-cooked foods such as pizzas will be targeted with the additional revenue to be used for funding obesity-fighting measures.
Consumers on Saturday, the day before the tax went into effect, hoarded butter, pizza, meat and milk to avoid the immediate price increases. “We have had to stock up with tons of butter and margarine in order to be able to supply outlets,” Soeren Joergensen of Arla Distribution told AFP.
“The way that this has been put together is an administrative nightmare, and I doubt whether it will give better health. It´s more just a tax,” said DI foodstuffs spokeswoman Gitte Hestehave.
Setting prices on domestically produced or imported goods was complicated, with computer systems having to be adjusted, adding many man-hours to administrative tasks for producers and sellers, Hestehave told BBC News.
“Products that include other products that include saturated fats also have to have new prices worked out. Imported goods require a declaration from the producers abroad on exactly how much saturated fat has been used in production.”
“Hopefully the tax will be short-lived,” EU legal expert Jeppe Rosenmejer of the Danish Federation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises said, addign that the European Union is currently studying the tax as there may be a competition issue.
A Danish producer will have to pay the tax on all of the saturated fat used, including for example what a product is fried in, he said. An importer may only be paying according to what is actually in the finished product.
Elsewhere in Europe, similar taxes are growing in popularity, Hungary recently imposed a tax is on all packaged foods containing unhealthy levels of sugar, salt, and carbohydrates, as well as products containing high levels of caffeine, The Telegraph reports.
And a 2007 study in Britain concluded that a combination of taxes on unhealthy foods and tax breaks on fruit and vegetables could save 3,200 lives a year in the UK, reports The Guardian.
UK´s Health Minister Andrew Lansley has up until now resisted calls for taxes on unhealthy foods, but there is a growing chorus calling for some action to combat Britain´s obesity problem.