DENMARK: Government confirms ambition to scrap fat tax
The Danish government introduced the tax of DKK16 per kg on saturated fat in foods 12 months ago
Denmark's government has confirmed it plans to scrap a tax implemented on saturated fats in foods, less than a year after the levy was introduced.
Denmark introduced the tax of DKK16 per kg on saturated fat in foods 12 months ago. Amid rising obesity levels worldwide, its action was viewed by many health campaigners as a pioneering attempt to tackle the problem head-on.
Industry insiders and health campaigners, however, had expected the tax to be dropped as part of a budgetary deal between political parties.
A spokesperson for the government said in a statement today that it has "a clear ambition" to scrap the tax, which it said it had inherited from the former liberal government.
However, the government added: "This demands a responsible and fair financing, and I look forward to see the former government parties to take responsibility in this case."
In the country, government ministers have gone on-record to criticise the effect of the tax on food industry jobs.
Ole Wehlast, chairman of the Danish Food Workers Union, told just-food in August that plans to scrap the tax would be "a victory for commonsense".
Some were critical of how the Danish government approached the issue, claiming the tax was motivated primarily by revenue concerns, rather than public health.
"It was a do-nothing tax," said Tam Fry, spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum. "All they were doing was to get some more money for the Treasury."
He highlighted a recent study in the British Medical Journal, which argued that, for a so-called lifestyle tax such as this to work, it needs to be set at closer to 20%. "You've got to go for broke," he said.
Still, Fry said a decision to drop the tax in Denmark would be symbolic for the wider debate on taxing foods linked to obesity. "It's really unfortunate," he said, speaking broadly as a supporter of such taxes.
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