The Irish Food and Drinks industry has reacted to the recently published National Obesity Policy and Action Plan, which outlines the Government’s plans to reduce the rate of obesity in Ireland.
Food and Drinks Industry Ireland (FDII) has noted that the plan has some positive elements, but that new taxes are not the answer in reducing obesity.
FDII Director Paul Kelly commented, “FDII supports evidence based policy making and a collaborative approach to diet and public health. There are elements of the new policy that the food and drink industry can support through our work on effective measures like product reformulation, nutrition labelling, product choice and workplace wellbeing.
“However, the food sector is adamantly opposed to the inclusion of policy measures, like food and beverage taxes, which are unfair, discriminatory and not evidence based.”
The Irish Beverage Council has echoed FDII’s sentiments, with Director Kevin McPartlan saying, “We are extremely pleased that the Government strategy states it is to examine the evidence for the efficacy of fiscal measures in addressing obesity. The best policy solutions are those grounded in evidence.
“The call for the immediate introduction of a tax/levy on sugar-sweetened drinks fails that test. There is no evidence that an additional tax on soft drinks will achieve the desired public health outcomes. Any objective assessment of the international evidence will find sugar taxes have failed to meaningfully tackle the obesity challenge. Introduction in Ireland would penalise Irish consumers and businesses and threaten Irish jobs for no health dividend.”
Meanwhile, Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) Dr Pamela Byrne has called the plan a significant policy strategy to tackle the prevalence of obesity.
“It sets out a cross-sectoral approach with multiple measures to address this growing health issue. As a first national policy to tackle obesity through a whole society approach in Ireland, it offers an unprecedented opportunity to create a healthier nation and the FSAI looks forward to playing its part in its success.”
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