Too much meat, sugar, and salt can pollute the environment and damage human health. England’s National Food Strategy called for new sugar and salt taxes to help change the British diet.
Birmingham, U.K. (WS News Publisher) – A review commissioned by the government stated that a historic reform of the food system is needed to protect the NHS, improve national health and save the environment. The 2019 independent report called for a reformulation tax on sugar and salt to reduce its use in products and curb obesity, stroke, and heart disease.
Diet affects environment and health
National Food Strategy warns that the food that humans eat and how it is produced is causing damage to the environment and health. In England, 64,000 people die every year, wild animals are declining, and climate change is significant.
Eating meat can lead to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and greenhouse gas emissions. Meat consumption releases greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide. These gases cause global warming.
In order to produce meat, our forests are constantly shrinking. As the land was reused to raise animals and grow soybeans, many habitats were destroyed or affected. It is estimated that more than half of the habitable land on the planet is used for agriculture, of which about 77% is used for raising cattle, sheep, goats, and other livestock.
Eating habits are related to price
The report found that high-calorie, highly processed foods are three times cheaper than healthy foods.
The review recommended that the new sugar tax be set at £3 per kilogram and the salt tax for wholesale sales of processed food or for restaurants and catering companies at £6 per kilogram.
This will represent a substantial increase in the cost of these two important components. The review team calculated that this tax could raise up to £3.4 billion a year.
Taxation and Give back
National Food Strategy recognizes that by raising the prices of certain products, sugar and salt taxes may put additional financial pressure on the poorest households. It recommended that funds raised from the new tax provide free school meals to low-income families.
National Food Strategy also hopes that doctors will try to establish fruit and vegetable prescriptions for low-income people to encourage healthy eating.
Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard said, “The Government should be working to ensure every family can afford for their children to get a healthy hot meal every day. Britain’s high food and farming standards must be protected in law not watered down in trade deals.”
“We need a radical obesity strategy, ensuring families are able to access healthy food, supporting local leisure facilities and tackling rising child poverty.”