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Fat Information on Food Label

Tax on Fat
Denmark Introduces the Fat Tax

By WLR's Site Manager, Laurence Beeken

Denmark has introduced the world’s first surcharge on food high in saturated fat. As from Saturday 01st October, Danes will be charged approximately £1.85 (€2.16) per kilo of saturated fat contained in a product by way of a fat tax.

The tax on fat comes after Hungary introduced a tax on soft drinks, pastries, salty snacks and food flavourings. Denmark, Switzerland and Austria have already banned trans fats and both Romania and Finland are considering the fat tax.

Why introduce a fat tax?

The Danish food tax was introduced to combat diseases linked to saturated fats in order to increase the current Danish life expectancy of 79 years to 82 years over the next 3 years.

What is subject to the tax on fat?

Butter, milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed foods are subject to the new tax if they contain over 2.3% saturated fat.

How will the fat tax affect consumers?

Ole Linnet Juul, food director at Denmark’s Confederation of Industries, estimated that this will put the equivalent of around 9p on a burger, 8p on a bag of crisps and 25p on a pack of butter.

Will the UK adopt a fat tax?

Across Europe, more countries are considering introducing the fat tax, including Britain. Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum said “it is not a question of whether we should follow the Danes’ lead – we have to”

Less than 10% of Danes are clinically obese, putting them slightly below the European average.

However, researchers at Denmark's Institute for Food and Economic estimate that close to 4% of the country's premature deaths are a result of excess consumption of saturated fats.

For Britain, where more than 20% of the population is obese, the number will be considerably higher.

As usual, some people are in favour, some against, with the main criticism being that salt and sugar should have been targeted. The tax mechanism itself is complicated and there is already lobbying to simplify it. The revenue will go towards funding obesity related projects, although it is unsure at present just how much will be spent on administration of the tax itself.

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