Butch­ers rally against ‘meat tax’


Coventry Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By CLAIRE HAR­RI­SON claire.har­ri­son01@reach­plc.com

say they would have ma­jor ‘beef’ if a meat tax was brought in.

Sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford have sug­gested that gov­ern­ments should con­sider im­pos­ing price hikes on red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork - to re­duce con­sump­tion, which would help save lives.

But, butch­ers across Coven­try and Nuneaton say that such a tax would do more harm than good for health.

A spokesper­son for Scotts Butch­ers in Coven­try said: “The thing is, we have been eat­ing meat since time be­gan, it is not the meat that is caus­ing the prob­lem, it is the car­bo­hy­drates and ev­ery­thing else.

“This is just an­other way of try­ing to make money out of peo­ple. Us butch­ers have been re­ally through it the past 20 years, with BSE and things like that, this is just an­other thing to scare­mon­ger.

“I would cer­tainly know how they plan to tax it, it is just not right.”

Sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments were echoed by Tim Parker, one of the di­rec­tors at Nuneaton’s famed Frank Parker Butch­ers.

“Lean red meat is ac­tu­ally re­ally good for you, it helps peo­ple who are di­et­ing and those who are low on iron,” Mr Parker said.

“You can un­der­stand the sugar tax, but one on red meat? It should be down to choice, if you want to eat red meat, then eat it, if you don’t, don’t. There shouldn’t be a tax, peo­ple should sim­ply have a choice if they eat it or not.”

He went on: “You would have to tax it at source and I am not sure how that would work. It is ob­vi­ously some­thing we would not sup­port.”

Sci­en­tists have said a price-hik­ing “meat tax” could pre­vent about 220,000 deaths and save more than £30.7 bil­lion in health­care costs around the world each year.

The study is based on ev­i­dence link­ing con­sump­tion of “red” meat to an in­creased risk of heart dis­ease, stroke, di­a­betes and can­cer.

Sci­en­tists set out to es­ti­mate the level of health tax needed to make up for health­care costs as­so­ci­ated with eat­ing meat in 149 re­gions around the world.

They also cal­cu­lated the likely im­pact of a meat tax on death rates due to chronic dis­ease.

By 2020, con­sump­tion of red and pro­cessed meat was likely to cause 2.4 mil­lion deaths per year and cost the global econ­omy 285 bil­lion US dol­lars (£219 bil­lion), the study found. Meat tax lev­els high enough to coun­ter­act health­care costs var­ied from coun­try to coun­try. In the UK, the “op­ti­mal” tax level in­creased the cost of red meat by 14% and pro­cessed meat by 79 per cent. De­spite the huge im­pact on the price of burg­ers, sausages, mince and steak, the sci­en­tists be­hind the study called on gov­ern­ments to con­sider im­pos­ing a meat tax. Lead re­searcher Dr Marco Spring­mann, from the Nuffield Depart­ment of Pop­u­la­tion Health at Ox­ford Univer­sity, said: “The con­sump­tion of red and pro­cessed meat ex­ceeds rec­om­mended lev­els in most high and mid­dle-in­come coun­tries. “This is hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts not only on per­sonal health, but also on health­care sys­tems, which are tax­payer-funded in many coun­tries, and on the econ­omy, which is los­ing its labour force due to ill health and care for fam­ily mem­bers who fall ill. “I hope that gov­ern­ments will con­sider in­tro­duc­ing a health levy on red and pro­cessed meat as part of a range of mea­sures to make healthy and sus­tain­able de­ci­sion-mak­ing eas­ier for con­sumers. “A health levy on red and pro­cessed meat would not limit choices, but send a pow­er­ful sig­nal to con­sumers and take pres­sure off our health­care sys­tems.

“No­body wants gov­ern­ments to tell peo­ple what they can and can’t eat.

“How­ever, our find­ings make it clear that the con­sump­tion of red and pro­cessed meat has a cost, not just to peo­ple’s health and to the planet, but also to the health­care sys­tems and the econ­omy.”

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion has clas­si­fied beef, lamb and pork as car­cino­genic when eaten in pro­cessed form, and “prob­a­bly” can­cer-caus­ing when con­sumed un­pro­cessed.

Red meat con­sump­tion has also been as­so­ci­ated with in­creased rates of coro­nary heart dis­ease, stroke and Type 2 di­a­betes.

The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Pub­lic Li­brary of Sci­ence ONE, in­di­cated that a health tax could re­duce con­sump­tion of pro­cessed meat such as ba­con and sausages by about two por­tions per week in high-in­come coun­tries.

Higher taxes on pro­cessed meat were also ex­pected to cause con­sumers to switch to eat­ing more un­pro­cessed meat.

As a re­sult, con­sump­tion of un­pro­cessed meat was pre­dicted to re­main un­changed by 2020. The global ben­e­fits of a meat tax in­cluded a 16% re­duc­tion in pro­cessed meat con­sump­tion, and the preven­tion of 222,000 deaths from can­cer, heart dis­ease, stroke and Type 2 di­a­betes.

In ad­di­tion an es­ti­mated 3,800 deaths re­lated to obe­sity would be pre­vented, the study found.

“Op­ti­mal” meat taxes in sev­eral other coun­tries were sig­nif­i­cantly higher than in the UK, ac­cord­ing to the re­search.

We’ve been eat­ing meat since time be­gan. It’s just an­other way of try­ing to make money out of peo­ple. Scotts Butch­ers, Coven­try

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