BACON and ham should be treated like smoking and slapped with a hefty “meat tax”, warn leading experts.
Oxford University scientists claim nearly doubling the cost would prevent 6,000 deaths a year by encouraging Brits to eat healthier alternatives.
They want to hit shoppers with a whopping 79 per cent hike in the price of processed meats, such as bacon, ham and salami.
And they are also calling for a 14 per cent rise in the cost of red meat – like steak and pork chops.
But critics slammed the controversial tax as another “nanny state” intervention.
They estimate it will also save the NHS £730 million annually by reducing the need for care.
But hard-hit families would see the price of a pack of Tesco streaky bacon rocket by £1.38, from £1.75 to £3.13.
Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, says around 70,000 lives a year are cut short in the UK due to overconsumption.
He claims the price rises will slash demand for processed meat by around a fifth.
HOW MEAT PRICES WOULD CHANGE
Based on the current price of each of these products this is how much the price would change:
- Streaky bacon [300g] – currently £1.75 + £1.38 = £3.13
- Honey roast ham [125g] – currently £1.65 + £1.30 = £2.95
- Peperami [5 pack] – currently £2.75 + £2.17 = £4.92
- Sirloin steak [227g] – currently £3.80 + £0.53 = £4.33
- Leg of lamb [2.2kg] – currently £24.20 + £3.39 = £27.59
Dr Springmann said: “The consumption of red and processed meat exceeds recommended levels in most high and middle-income countries.
“This is having significant impacts not only on personal health, but also on healthcare systems, which are taxpayer-funded.
“It is a similar argument to taxing smokers. We are not saying do not have any meat, just pay a fair price for it that reflects the cost to your health and the pressure on the NHS.”
The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.
The World Health Organisation says eating processed meat raises the chance of cancer, while red meat is “probably” risky.
MORE ON CANCER
The Sun launched the Hands Off Our Grub campaign earlier this year in the wake of the controversial sugar tax, which hiked the price of many popular fizzy drinks.
Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “This is the same combination of junk science and dodgy economics that led to the sugar tax.
“Politicians would be suicidal to raise the cost of living again with a meat tax.
“An unholy alliance of ‘public health’ campaigners, environmentalists and vegetarians will be working night and day to make this happen. Taxing food is the next battleground for the nanny state.”
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