Portugal, home of retailer Pingo Doce, said to be mulling nutrient tax

Portugal, home of retailer Pingo Doce, said to be mulling nutrient tax

Portugal is considering introducing a tax on foods containing high levels of fat and salt, in addition to raising an existing tax on sugary drinks, the country's health minister has said.

Adalberto Campos Fernandes said in an interview with Portugal's Lusa news agency the move is under consideration by the government.

A tax on junk food, "similar to the one applying to sugary drinks, will be a priority target", Campos Fernandes said.

The minister said efforts to curb junk food consumption had already begun with the introduction of vegetarian menus in schools and restrictions on "unhealthy high calorie foods" in vending machines of hospitals. "We will certainly be more aggressive in 2018," he said.

Meanwhile, existing tax rates on sugary drinks will be "redefined to penalise the most harmful to health", Campos Fernandes added. He gave no details on what the levels of the new and revised taxes might be, but he pledged to discuss the issue with food industry representatives.

EU commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis has called for measures such as reformulation, taxation and curbs on marketing and advertising to "reduce accessibility to unhealthy food".