Drinks industry says health claims for sugar tax are groundless

Government levy plan part of strategy to halt rising levels of overweight and obesity

The Irish Beverage Council said it was pleased with the commitment in the plan that food-related taxes would have to be based on evidence. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA

The Irish Beverage Council said it was pleased with the commitment in the plan that food-related taxes would have to be based on evidence. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA

 

Food and drink manufacturers have rejected the call in the Government’s obesity plan for the introduction of a sugar levy.

The Irish Beverage Council said it was extremely pleased with the commitment in the plan that any food-related taxes or levies would have to be based on evidence before being rolled out.

A tax on sugar-sweetened drinks would not be grounded in evidence and would penalise consumers and businesses with no health dividend, it warned.

Food and Drink Industry Ireland said it was “adamantly opposed” to food and drink taxes, as these were unfair, discriminatory and not evidence-based.

“There are elements of the new policy that the industry can support through our work on effective measures like product reformulation, nutrition labelling, product choice and workplace wellbeing,” said FDII director Paul Kelly.

The Irish Heart Foundation expressed concern about the role given to the food and beverage sector in the strategy, which proposes a forum for engagement with industry and a voluntary code on marketing of unhealthy products to children.

It warned that any further “implementation paralysis” could prove devastating for the health of children.

Dr Francis Finucane, consultant endocrinologist at Galway University Hospitals, claimed the plan was “overly conciliatory to the food and drink industry guys who must be delighted with it”.

The HSE said the strategy sets out a clear road map for a population-wide response to halt the rising levels of overweight and obesity.