Scientists call for red and processed meat tax

The government should follow the imposition of a sugar tax on soft drinks with a levy on red and processed meat to improve public health, according to University of Oxford researchers. They argue that raising red meat prices 14% and processed meats by up to 79% through fiscal means would deter their consumption and save 6,000 people a year from dying as a result of cancer, heart disease or strokes.

If every country in the world adopted similar taxes there would be 220,000 fewer deaths a year and a global saving on health spending of £30.6 billion. In the UK, such measures would save the NHS £734 million a year, the study claims.

Lead Researcher Dr Marco Springmann, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health, said most people in middle and higher-income countries consume more red meat than is recommended. “This is having significant impacts not only on personal health, but also on healthcare systems, which are taxpayer-funded in many countries, and on the economy, which is losing its labour force due to ill health and care for family members who fall ill," he added.