Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Suggestion of a sugar tax leaves a bitter taste in consumer mouths

Forty years ago I can remember going into the small supermarket that was a mile or so from where we lived, and seeing women fighting to get the last bag of sugar off the shelves. Rows of shelves were emptied within minutes of a delivery and my mother, not normally a hoarder, had got several bags stacked away in her walk in larder. That was back in 1974 when the sugar stock got so low in this country that some food stores such as Fine Fare rationed customers to no more than 4 bags of sugar. At the time, we were not overweight, my mother and her mother cooked their meals from scratch and we all had good sets of teeth, and still have, which are coming in handy as I find myself gritting them together today at the news of a possible taxing on sugar.

Consumers could end up paying more for a sweet treat

The Chief Medical Officer for England has been speaking to a committee of MP’s regarding the problems with obesity and stating that she believes “research will find sugar addictive” and one of her suggestions was to possibly introduce a tax on sugar. At this point my blood start to boil at roughly the same temperature it takes to make a pound and a half of strawberry fudge. Having successfully given up adding sugar to tea many years ago, and being educated to read, I feel that along with many consumers in this country, I can check food labels for sugar content, I am able to cook healthy meals and concoct desserts and sweets without too much risk to my health and well-being and the only thing that will be hurting if there is a tax on sugar, will be my purse strings.
Focus on education and youth and community resources not additional taxation
Sugary drinks consumed in the UK runs to nearly 6,000 million litres and the Department of Health have already got in place what they call a “responsibility deal” that sees food and drink manufacturers voluntarily signing up to a pledge to help tackle obesity. Consumers can make an informed choice with the information found on food labelling and any additional tax burden placed on the poorer families is not going to help. It would be far better for the government to focus its resources on education in schools with actual practical cookery classes or reinvesting in local youth and community groups and sports facilities to help tackle obesity. I spoke recently with a friend whose daughter spent a whole term learning about pizzas in what used to be the home economics or cookery class, but never actually baked one from start to finish which would have been much more useful.
The whole “tax it if it is no good for you” approach is not working and for consumers struggling to pay food bills, this suggestion cannot come at a worse time. If you have any alternative solutions then let us know – we’re listening!


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