Celebrity chef Jaimie Oliver is ramping up his campaign on healthy eating by imposing a 10p sugar tax on all sweet drinks served in his chain of restaurants from September
The 10p charge will be added to all soft and fizzy drinks with added sugar, with the proceeds going to a fund run by charity Sustain.
Sustain has been calling on the government to introduce a sugary drinks duty since 2013, when it published a report on the viability of targeted food taxes to protect children’s health, entitled A children’s future fund.
It says that introducing a sugary drinks duty in the UK, for example at 20p per litre, would raise around £1bn a year.
The charity will assist Jamie Oliver in setting up a fund to support children’s food initiatives across the UK in a bid to stop the growing epidemic of diet related diseases in children.
Other restaurants are being encouraged to come on board and set up similar sugary drink donations to contribute to this fund.
Oliver said: ‘Recently I’ve seen first-hand the heart-breaking effects that a poor diet and too much sugar is having on our children’s health and futures.
‘Soft drinks are the biggest single source of sugar among school-age kids and teenagers and so we have to start there.’
The new 10p charge will come into force from September.
Simon Blagden, CEO of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group said: ‘As a business we’re concerned about the increasing levels of diet-related disease in the UK, especially in children, and while we’re not against treats, we do feel that we need to take a lead when it comes to keeping our customers informed.
‘A levy on these drinks allows us to send a message as well as raise money to help give children the knowledge to make better food and drink choices.’
The UK government has refused to raise taxes on soft drinks and sweet snacks despite strong lobbying from campaigners against obesity and healthy eating groups.
France has already levied tax on soft drinks with a 1p charge all drinks with added sugar or artificial sweeteners, which came into force in January 2012, with a similar tax also imposed in Mexico.
However, Denmark abolished its fizzy drinks tax completely in January 2014, in a surprise move which repealed a line of the tax code which had been in force since the 1930s. Unsurprisingly, this measure was welcomed by the European Non-Alcoholic Beverages Association (UNESDA), which said it would ‘create jobs and boost the economy’.
The high street restaurants include Jamie’s Italian with 18 UK restaurants as well as a branch in Dubai. The Fifteen restaurant group, which he founded in 2002, provides training for young people in three locations around the world as well as producing food of the highest quality. Other restaurants include Barbecoa, opposite St Paul’s in the City of London which specialises in meat dishes and cooking using wood, charcoal and smoke; and Jamie’s Diner with artist Jay, in association with Jay Burridge.
A Children’s Future Fund – how food duties could provide the money to protect children’s health and the world they grow up in, is available here