Foodservice Industry Gives Food Tax Thumbs Down

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TORONTO — As the idea of instituting a food tax in Ontario is debated, Phyllis Tanaka, registered dietitian and VP for Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), is asserting that food tax is not the solution to combating obesity.

“Obesity is a complex issue with no one cause and no one solution. The food and beverage industry has been engaged, helping Canadians adopt healthy active lifestyles by investing in and promoting more healthful products, developing community wellness programs and teaching consumers how to read and understand nutrition information. Let’s be very clear — food is not tobacco. Tobacco has no place in a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A tax on food and beverages is nothing but a tax grab that will hurt lower- and middle-income Ontarians the most.” Phyllis Tanaka wrote in a statement.

Tanaka pointed out that Denmark, which introduced a fat tax last year, is in the process of scrapping it. In addition, she cites Australian studies and 18 U.S. states where the food tax has not worked.

The statement comes on the heels of The Ontario Medical Association’s (OMA) new measures announced Tuesday, calling for higher taxes and graphic warning labels on junk food to combat childhood obesity. “We need to fight this problem with proven tools like tax incentives and graphic warnings. There is an enormous body of evidence that these measures work,” said Dr. Doug Weir, president of the OMA.

OMA’s recommendations include: increasing taxes on junk food and decreasing taxes on healthy food; restricting marketing of fatty and sugary foods to children; placing graphic warnings on pop and other high-calorie foods with little to no nutritional value; instituting retail displays of high-sugar, high-fat foods that include prominently placed information that advises consumers of the health risks; and restricting the availability of sugary, low-nutritional value foods in sports and other recreational facilities frequented by young people.

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