Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Denmark Tax

At the end of September, Denmark became the first country to levy a tax on fat.  Saturated fat that is - in foods.  I mentioned it here at the time, but was just able to explore it  today.
The tax is a "certain amount of money on a certain measure of weight".  In Denmark this means that they are adding 16 kroner per kilo.  If this were in American money and weight, it would be about a dollar a pound.  OF course, most products don't have a pound of saturated fat (except maybe Blooming Onions and butter), so the tax is really ten or twenty cents more for whatever the product is.   

It might have seemed a good idea at the time - imposed by the exiting government (imagine that) - but it is VERY complicated.  It applies to local and imported foods and requires importers to declare the amount of Sat Fat in their foods (which I thought ALL labels had to declare in the first place).  I suppose if someone is bringing in a truck of goods it could be tricky.
Worse - unless they have a provision in the law that I am unaware of - healthy, heart protective, foods and oils like olive oil and (Smucker's all natural) peanut butter will ALSO go up in price.  For those two specific products the amount of monounsaturated or GOOD fat is six or seven times higher than the 2 gs of sat fat they contain, but they would cost more (now) in Denmark.  That would go directly against one of the goals of the DGAs (Dietary Guidelines for Americans). 

I think that price differentials are very important but this wouldn't be the way I would go about it.  If I were to raise taxes - I would do it by class of food.  Really, I would prefer that we suspend or lower taxes on fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grain products - for a start.

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