Jamie Oliver takes up cudgels against govt

Celebrity British Chef Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver fears the soft drinks industry has put pressure on ministers to drop the plans. Asian Lite reports

Celebrity British Chef Jamie Oliver
Celebrity British Chef Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver has called for a tax on sugar as part of his Sugar Rush campaign. He said he is “ready for a fight” with the Government over reports it has shelved plans for a sugar tax.

The chef and television presenter, who has campaigned to introduce a levy on soft drinks containing added sugar, said he would be “hugely surprised and disappointed” if reports were accurate that David Cameron has vetoed the tax without reading a Public Health England (PHE) report on the issue.

Oliver told the Commons Health Committee he was confident the Government had not “written off” introducing the tax.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Oliver said: “In my meetings with him (Mr Cameron) on the subject, I’ve outlined my own experiences of seeing just how devastating too much sugar can be.

“The food and drinks lobby might try to present me as a TV chef who has got too big for his boots. But I’m basing my arguments on the evidence of numerous doctors and scientists.”

According to Birmingham Mail, Dr Alison Tedstone, director of diet and obesity for PHE, this week told MPs evidence suggested a sugar tax could be effective at curbing childhood obesity.

Speaking at a health committee hearing on childhood obesity, she added: “Broadly, the evidence shows the higher the tax increase, the greater the effect.”

Oliver said members of the public are largely in favour of having clearer labelling advertising sugar content – while junk food manufacturers wish to have such details suppressed.

He vowed to be “a pain” to the Government in an effort to drive home the importance of taxing sugary drinks, and broadcast a documentary on the subject – Jamie’s Sugar Rush – on Channel 4 last month.

Writing in the Mail, he said drinks companies have written him off “as a mouthy buffoon”.

He added: “If we truly care about prosperity and our little island remaining economically relevant in the world over the next 30 years or so, we need bright and healthy British kids.

“That’s something that I’m prepared to campaign long and hard for … I’m ready for a fight.”