My friend Waltraud, who’s keeping abreast of the European food front, shared this news item with me today: In March, Romania will become the first country to introduce a tax on junk food.
Why? To contribute to the country’s health food programs.
The tax will be paid by those who produce, import, or process unhealthy foodstuffs, with a high content of salt, fats, sugar, and additives. Examples include: fast-food products; cakes, candies, snacks, and soda.
The proceeds, which will be collected starting March 1, 2010, will be considered income for the health ministry to spend on health programs. The ministry justified its proposal by pointing out that more and more people in Europe suffer from obesity, increasing the risk of diabetes, hypertension and premature death.
“Unhealthy food boosts the number of fatalities and health spending, it reduces productivity, harms quality of life and reduces life expectancy,” a ministry document says.
What a great idea. Why haven’t we thought of that in the U.S.? According to EurActiv.com, a fast-food tax, also referred to as a ‘junk food tax’ or ‘Whopper tax’, has been discussed for many years in the U.S. but has never been introduced.