The same policy in Denmark resulted in red meat being taxed at 29% and processed meat at 119%.
Catherine Happer, at the University of Glasgow and not part of the research team, said: "My view is increasingly that a tax on red and processed meat is inevitable as the science on the harms has consolidated".
Study from researchers at the Oxford Martin School concludes a health tax on red and processed meat could prevent more than 220,000 deaths and save over US$40 billion in healthcare costs every year.
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In our new study, colleagues from the International Food Policy Research Institute in the USA, and the Oxford Martin School and the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, analysed the impact of regulating red and processed meat consumption through a health tax on meat.
Should a meat tax be applied at the recommended rate, the price would rise to £1.95.
The question of a "meat tax" has been hotly debated across the media, after researchers at the University of Oxford claimed it could prevent nearly 6,000 deaths per year and more than £700m in healthcare costs in the UK. 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.
The study found that red meat would need to be 20% more expensive and processed meat, like bacon, sausages and jerky, would need to be more than double its current price to account for these health costs. But the healthcare costs incurred by eating red meat are often paid by all taxpayers, he said: "It is totally fine if you want to have [red meat], but this personal consumption decision really puts a strain on public funds". These countries also spend more money treating the associated chronic diseases. And as a result, the health taxes we calculated are based on an economically optimal tax that is high in high-income countries and low in low-income countries.
Now a standard 681g pack of 12 pork sausages from Tesco costs £1.09.
But the study is a useful reminder that eating a lot of processed meat in particular does have an impact on health. Due to its relatively modest healthcare spending the United Kingdom is somewhere in the middle with an 80% increase.
Several studies have shown red meat to be harmful in the long run when consumed regularly.
The consumption of red and processed meat exceeds recommended levels in most high and middle-income countries. In October, scientists reported that huge reductions in meat eating are essential to avoid unsafe climate change, including a 90% drop in beef consumption in western nations. The researchers found it would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by over one hundred million tonnes, mainly due to lower beef consumption, and reduce levels of obesity by driving consumers to lower-calorie substitutions.
"Optimal" meat taxes were significantly higher in other countries than in the United Kingdom, according to the research. "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", he added.
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