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Minister rules out prospect of tax on ‘junk food’

James Reilly rules out taxing high-fat foods, but is to ask fast food operators to display the calorie counts of meals on their menus.

HEALTH MINISTER James Reilly has ruled out the imposition of a tax on junk food – but says he will write to Ireland’s fast food operators asking them to introduce a calorie count for each of their meals on their menus.

The disclosure follows meetings between officials from the Department of Health and representatives from the food industry over the summer.

In response to a series of parliamentary questions tabled by Dún Laoghaire TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who had asked if Reilly would consider introducing a tax on junk foods.

Reilly ruled out the prospect of the tax, but did say that the Special Action Group on Obesity is not considering the imposition of a tax “on high fat, salt and sugar foods at this juncture”.

The minister said that the group had considered asking fast food companies to place calorie values on their menus, and that he would now write to the country’s fast food chains asking for their compliance.

Reilly also said that the group had not ruled out introducing a ‘sugar tax’ on sugar-sweetened drinks as one of a range of measures to tackle obesity.

McDonald’s Ireland has previously said it had no plans to introduce a calorie count on its Irish menus, declining to follow the lead of its British counterpart.

The UK move came as a result of a recommendation from a similar strategy group there.

Government considering sugar tax to tackle obesity >

McDonald’s has no plans for calorie counts on Irish menus >

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Gavan Reilly

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