Meat lobby sues Denmark over 'fat tax' – but not on health grounds

Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, DenmarkThe government of Denmark is being sued for introducing a “fat tax” on meat. The legal challenge has been mounted by the Danish Butchers Association (DSM), a meat lobby group that claims the move contravenes EU law.

Far from disagreeing with the government’s assessment that foods high in saturated fat are a health risk, DSM’s legal argument is that the fat tax will “distort competition” between large and small businesses.

Introduced in October to help combat obesity and heart disease, it is applied to foods that contain in excess of 2.3 per cent saturated fat, including meat, biscuits, oils and junk food.

The European Dairy Association, which is also vehemently opposed to the tax, has not argued against the health aspect either – rather it says the surcharge will increase the amount of paperwork companies have to deal with and will cause a tax imbalance within Denmark.

Earlier this month, scientists from Sweden established a possible link between processed meat and pancreatic cancer, while its connection to heart disease is well known.

France is due to approve a tax on sugary drinks later this month, while Hungary introduced a surcharge on food high in fat, salt and sugar last year, with Poland said to be considering similar measures to curb a growing poor health and obesity epidemic.

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