Meat tax could save thousands of lives and slash healthcare costs

Tax bacon? Researchers say it would save lives	 	 	 			Crispy Organic Unhealthy Bacon on a Background

Tax bacon? Researchers say it would save lives Crispy Organic Unhealthy Bacon on a Background

"However, our findings make it clear that the consumption of red and processed meat has a cost, not just to people's health and to the planet, but also to the healthcare systems and the economy".

The World Health Organization declared processed red meat to be a carcinogen in 2015, and unprocessed red meat such as steaks and chops to be a probable carcinogen. Processed meats include sausages, ham and bacon which form staple diets of many individuals.

The WHO also classifies red meat as probably carcinogenic - even if eaten unprocessed.

NFU national livestock board chairman Richard Findlay said: "Scientific and medical communities both agree consuming recommended quantities of red meat is beneficial to human health and provides the body with a ready source of essential vitamins and minerals". Thus public consumption of sugar has reduced.

A "meat tax" could prevent nearly 6,000 deaths per year in the United Kingdom and save the economy more than £700 million, according to researchers. The new tax would almost double the cost of processed meat and raise the price of a steak by 14 percent. The heath care services are overtly taxed and also there is loss of work force due to work place absenteeism due to ailments associated with red meat consumption.

In the U.S., the tax resulted in red meat costing 34% more and the price of processed meat soaring by 163%. Then they calculated an optimal tax that could help account for those health costs.

By 2020, eating red and processed meat was likely to cause 2.4million deaths per year and cost the global economy £219billion, the study of 149 world regions found.

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Why can red meat be harmful?

"The tax is higher in the USA due to an inefficient health system that wastes a lot of money", said Springmann.

The health taxes on sausages in Germany, and bacon in the United States, for example would increase prices by a whopping 160%. Fresh burgers and mince are not considered to be processed meats. Due to its relatively modest healthcare spending the United Kingdom is somewhere in the middle with an 80% increase.

The researchers found that such a tax would reduce consumers' portions of processed meat such as bacon and sausages by two servings per week in Britain. Red meat has been linked to heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Reducing the consumption of processed meat would also have a positive effect on climate change by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by over 100 million tons, it said. And it would also reduce levels of obesity by driving consumers to lower-calorie substitutions. This uses the healthcare costs incurred by eating one additional portion of red meat to set the tax rate, rather than the total healthcare costs incurred by all the red meat people eat.

To fully cover the costs, the health taxes would have to be doubled and, in high-income countries, increase to 200% for processed meat.

"A health levy on red and processed meat would not limit choices, but send a powerful signal to consumers and take pressure off our healthcare systems".

While some welcomed the proposal on Twitter, others told HuffPost UK they're unconvinced, raising concerns that a meat tax would penalise the poorest in society and not necessarily lead people towards healthier choices. Well, it could well be another cost to absorb on already rising food prices.

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