The Irish food and drink industry has urged the country's government to look at alternative solutions to obesity instead of a fat tax, which it says could "damage jobs, growth and competitiveness" in the sector.

Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) this week raised concerns that Ireland may follow other countries, including Denmark, in introducing a tax covering saturated fat, added sugar and salt.

As it stands, no firm policy intentions have been outlined in this regard but Shane Dempsey, head of consumer foods at FDII told just-food there is no evidence to suggest taxes improve the obesity situation or improve health.

"All the economic data out there is very theoretical," says Dempsey. "At this point taxes like this haven't been proven to work. They affect wealth more than health."

Dempsey urged the government to look at "other more pragmatic solutions" rather than a policy which could potentially "damage jobs, growth and competitiveness" in the food sector.

The Denmark government, which only last year introduced the tax of DKK16 per kg on saturated fat in foods, today confirmed its desire to scrap the tax.

Amid rising obesity levels worldwide, its action was viewed by many health campaigners as a pioneering attempt to tackle the problem head-on.

However, government ministers have gone on-record to criticise the effect of the tax on food industry jobs.

Dempsey told just-food today that the Danish example has proven that nutrient taxes "have bigger wealth impacts than health impacts", adding that fat taxes are "too blunt an instrument" and on the health argument alone "aren't proven to work". He adds: "We need to look at a different solution. There is a range of tools there where industry and government could work together."

Click here to read just-food's briefings covering the debate on nutrient taxes.