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Now Israel debates ‘fat tax’

By Rod Addy , 13-Aug-2012
Last updated the 13-Aug-2012 at 15:53 GMT

The Israel Tax Authority has been drawn into debating the introduction of a ‘fat tax’ for junk food products, making Israel the latest in a line of countries to be grappling with the issue.

The development comes after health authorities called for such a tax in March following research highlighting obesity in the country.

The analysis, results of which were revealed in March, indicated that 37% of Israeli adults were overweight and another 15% were obese. The Health Ministry claimed that addressing the problem was costing the Israeli economy billions of euros a year.

Now the Israeli Tax Authority has reportedly agreed to support such a tax in order to encourage healthy eating. Israel’s tax department was unavailable for comment as FoodNavigator was being published.

However, Efrat Kat, director of marketing and sales at Israel’s Algatechnologies, which produces healthy food ingredients derived from algae extracts, told FoodNavigator: “With regards to ‘fat tax’, we have heard of such attempts, but since we are not dealing with any high calories/sugar/fat consumer products we are not part of this dialogue.

A matter of education

“My personal opinion is that a balanced diet is a matter of education, more important than any price difference.”

Hungary and Romanian both impose levies on food and drink that is high in saturated fat, salt and sugar. And France also taxes sugary drinks, candy, chocolate and margarine.  

The issue of a ‘fat tax’ has been periodically raised in the UK. Most recently, two articles in the British Medical Journal appeared in May calling for a 20% tax on unhealthy food and drinks to curb obesity.

Meanwhile, Denmark is understood to be debating proposals to scrap a tax on products containing high quantities of saturated fat and may also rescind plans to tax products that are high in sugar.