Sugar Tax triggers a 5,500 tonne reduction in consumption
The government’s drive to reduce sugar, salt and fat in our diets has got off to a promising start with a reduction of 5,500 tonnes of sugar consumed in 2017 than during the previous year.
A drop in consumption of sweetened drinks and the imposition of a special ‘sugar tax’ have helped reduce the tonnage consumed.
The Ministry of Health is working with the food industry to reformulate foods such as cereals and French fries to reduce sugar, fat and salt.
The Deputy Secretary of State for Health, Fernando Araújo, welcomed the impact of the ‘sugar tax’ which, in addition raking in €80 million for the National Health Service, has persuaded industry to produce drinks with less sugar.
The Secretary of State reported that the consumption of the most ‘sugary’ drinks (i.e. more than eight grammess per 100 Millitre) has halved.
If there was a salt tax, voted down by MPs, this could raise €30 million per year for health promotion. Fernando Araújo said that he was concerned the vote was against the salt tax, as “The goal was not to raise money, but to push the industry to reformulate its products,” and use less salt.
The Ministry of Health remains in negotiations with the food industry as it strives to reformulate products, “We are going to be working with them to discuss concrete objectives for a number of product ranges over a number of years. Our proposal is for three years with an annual salt and sugar reduction target for the most important products to see if we managed to improve the quality of Portuguese food,” said Araújo.
The government is aiming to see reductions in sugar, salt and fats, especially ‘transfats’ used in margarine, snack foods and packaged baked goods. “Foods such as cereals, soft drinks, crisps, instant soups, biscuits, yogurts, chocolate milk and baked products will have to be reformulated following this agreement,” explained Araújo.
The idea is to “reach agreements” and not to impose more taxes but Fernando Araújo suggests that if the reduction of salt and sugar is not achieved voluntarily by the industry, “there are other instruments,” available that will achieve the same results.
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