JAMIE OLIVER doesn’t believe a tax on sugar drinks has been written off just yet with the prime minister keen to interrogate all possible options.
In an enthralling appearance in front of the House of Commons health committee yesterday, the celebrity chef also pushed for no junk food advertising before 9pm, a minimum age for buying energy drinks and a new label for sugary drinks.
“I think parents struggle on clarity and I don’t think industry has been great at giving them clarity,” he said, as he handed out sugary-sweetened drinks with homemade labels depicting the number of teaspoons of sugar in each. “With the teaspoons on the pack you wouldn’t need a sugar tax,” he told the group of MPs.
Oliver has already introduced a sugary drinks levy in his restaurant chain and has said it’s working. He wants to see a mandatory three-year tax put in place nationwide with a “sunset clause” if it doesn’t work. Confident that it will, he said the benefits would be “clear as a bell”.
Recent reports suggest the government doesn’t want to go down the taxation route, though the health secretary has called for tougher action.
Last week, the chair of the health committee Dr Sarah Wollaston accused ministers of suppressing an investigation by Public Health England into the initiatives that could curb childhood obesity, including a tax and smaller portions.
Head of PHE, Duncan Selbie, who appeared just before Oliver, was under attack from the off. He explained how he is “fully committed” to publishing the report. As for a sugar tax, he said it could contribute but “it’s not where we would start”.
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