Union opposes farcical red meat tax

The suggestion that red meat should be taxed to reduce the ‘cost burden’ on the NhS has been branded farcical and nonsensical by the FUW.

The study, which was produced by the Oxford Martin School and the Nuffield Department of Population health, referred to a highly controversial World health Organisation report which concluded that there may be a link between beef, lamb and pork and the risk of diseases such as stroke, diabetes and cancer. however, the evidence linking red meat to such diseases is sketchy and numerous studies have failed to find any definitive links between the consumption of red meat and mortality factors in humans.

Previous studies have also shown that the rate of cancers, such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer, display similar rates in both meat eaters and vegetarians.

The report, whose main author is vegan Marco Springmann, also suggests that a tax on red meat would change consumption patterns, although there is little evidence of this in other sectors. Moreover, according to the Meat Advisory Panel, average red meat consumption is now ‘well below’ those guidelines produced by the NhS and the FUW believes that there is therefore no evidence to support a red meat tax on the grounds of changing consumption patterns.

The FUW believes that disease prevention strategies work best when a holistic view of lifestyle is used. This means examining all factors, such as smoking, body weight, drinking levels and full nutritional intake.

Any studies which focus on one dietary aspect, without recognising the compounding effects of all lifestyle factors on overall health and wellbeing, are flawed and, very often, sensationalist.

The FUW also continues to stress the benefits of red meat, such as the provision of protein for building muscle and bone and as a source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants essential for factors such as nerves, blood cells and the immune system. These benefits must be considered when planning future policies on health and wellbeing.

earlier this year, the WhO backed out of sponsoring the eAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and health due to its promotion of the ‘Planetary health Diet’ which calls for a drastic reduction in meat consumption on a global scale. Concerns relating to the impact of the diet on health and livelihoods caused the WhO to withdraw its endorsement.

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