Sugar: Food industry says it's a choice

The award-winning British chef announced this week that his franchise Italian restaurant Jamie's Italian will be opening its doors in trendy Melrose Arch in September.

The award-winning British chef announced this week that his franchise Italian restaurant Jamie's Italian will be opening its doors in trendy Melrose Arch in September.

Published Aug 28, 2015


London - The food industry has hit back at Jamie Oliver's latest campaign to impose a “sugar tax” on soft drinks to combat the obesity crisis, telling the celebrity chef that parents are best placed to make decisions about their children's diet.

Oliver called for a 20p per litre levy on every soft drink containing added sugar - equating to about 7p on every 330ml can of Coca-Cola.

The chef said the levy could raise revenue of up to £1bn per year to support preventative strategies in the NHS and in schools around obesity.

Oliver, who presents a Channel 4 documentary next week in which he meets sufferers from Type 2 diabetes who have had limbs amputated due to excess sugar in their diets, said he had lobbied David Cameron directly to introduce a “sugar tax”.

However, the Food and Drink Federation challenged Oliver's claim that sugary soft drinks are the single largest source of calories consumed by children. The body said that sugar consumption in the UK was on a downward trend.

Far more low and no-calorie soft drinks are sold in the UK than regular drinks, it argued, and it said that after an initial fall, consumption of soft drinks had risen in France after a tax was introduced in 2012.

Quizzed by Oliver in the film, Jamie's Sugar Rush, Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Demonising one nutrient is not a healthy way to proceed. Consumer choice is the best way to go because government intervention simply doesn't work.”

However, Oliver met surgeons required to take out the decayed teeth of young children and perform amputations on diabetes sufferers, who warned that the NHS would “crumble” because of the accumulating cost of treating sugar-related outcomes.

The film shows Oliver visiting Mexico, where a “soda tax” of 1 peso per litre, introduced in 2014, has raised more than $1bn (£650m) and produced a 6 per cent reduction in sugary drink consumption in its first year.

Jamie's Sugar Rush screens at 9pm on C4 on 3 September

The Independent

* The Daily Mail reports that Oliver on Thursday hit out at the junk food adverts that are shown during breaks in family shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent (BGT).

The celebrity chef said children are bombarded with commercials for products such as sugary drinks during peak slots.

Sitting down to watch one episode of ITV show BGT with his family recently, the father of four said he was appalled to witness a string of ads by fast-food outlets. He has now called for prime-time programmes to be subject to the same regulations as children’s channels - where adverts for food high in salt, sugar and fat is banned.

Oliver, 40, said: “I sat down recently to watch Britain’s Got Talent, which we all enjoy very much and consider a family show, I saw advertising from three major junk food retailers.

“These prime-time shows are aimed at children and feature children, but aren’t covered by the regulations.

“?The regulations were put in place to protect children, but simply haven’t gone far enough. Family oriented shows like these can contain up to 11 unhealthy food adverts per hour, and frequently attract child audiences of over one million.”

ITV said it takes its responsibilities towards advertising “very seriously” and actively tries to promote healthy lifestyles.

A spokesperson added: “There is already a robust system of regulation in the UK to restrict both the content and scheduling of advertising for food high in fat, salt or sugar, to children and young people, enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority and endorsed by Ofcom.”

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