Taxing red meat would save many lives, research shows
The cost of bacon and sausages would double if the harm they cause to people’s health was taken into account
Damian Carrington Environment editor Tue 6 Nov 2018 13.00 EST Last modified on Tue 6 Nov 2018 14.00 EST
A ‘sin tax’ on meat products such as beef, lamb and pork is inevitable in the longer term, say some experts. Taxing red meat would save many lives and raise billions to pay for healthcare, according to new research. It found the cost of processed meat such as bacon and sausages would double if the harm they cause to people’s health was taken into account.
Governments already tax harmful products to reduce their consumption, such as sugar, alcohol and tobacco. With growing evidence of the health and environmental damage resulting from red meat, some experts now believe a “sin tax” on beef, lamb and pork is inevitable in the longer term.
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. However, people in rich nations eat more than the recommended amount of red meat, which is also linked to heart disease, strokes and diabetes.
The new research looked at the level of tax needed to reflect the healthcare costs incurred when people eat red meat. It found that a 20% tax on unprocessed red meat and a 110% tax on the more harmful processed products across rich nations, with lower taxes in less wealthy nations, would cut annual deaths by 220,000 and raise $170bn (£130bn)…