Fresh from celebrating the sugar tax while hawking his own sickly sweet recipes, Jamie Oliver today announced that he was “in shock” over the government’s new obesity strategy. In a hand-wringing Facebook post, the once-naked chef complained:
“Where are the actions on irresponsible advertising targeted at our children, and the restrictions on junk food promotions?”
“Junk food promotions” like this Taste the Difference advert from when Oliver was in a deal with Sainsbury’s estimated to be worth between £1-2 million per year? In the “1,000 Tables” advert, Oliver struts through a market town, passing by and singing the praises of literally 1,000 different types of food – many of them brimming with fat, sugar, and salt (as handily pointed out in this video). In one scene, Guido counted 10 varieties of cake on a single table – all while gaggles of young children run and laugh around the set. What is it about losing his multi million pound Sainsbury’s sponsorship deal that has prompted Oliver’s clean-up advertising campaign?
Hungry googlers looking for something to cook for dinner tend to arrive at the BBC’s food website. It’s the number one search engine result for pretty much any basic recipe, with Jamie Oliver usually in second place. The demise of the Beeb food site means Jamie will likely now become the first result. What does this mean for the diets of families across Britain?
Let’s take one example. The BBC’s BBQ chicken recipe, soon to be deleted from the internet forever, contains a relatively healthy 23g of sugar per serving. Mums will instead soon be offered Jamie’s “best BBQ chicken”, which contains a staggering 45g of sugar per portion, double the amount in the Beeb recipe. That’s 50% of an adult’s recommended daily sugar intake!
Not only has the BBC conveniently chosen to cut the one thing that will make everyone upset about cuts to their funding. We’re also left with Jamie Oliver’s sugar-saturated sickly sweet nosh in their place..
Nanny Osborne’s sugar tax was brought in because the Treasury believes “that tax effects behaviour. So let’s tax the things we want to reduce.” By the same logic, surely Osborne should be fighting hefty EU sugar subsidies. Extended to go on until 2020 despite opposition from Oxfam and the WTO, the EU heavily subsidises sugar producers and exporters. Mega-corporation Tate & Lyle Europe has received a whopping €594,270,084 since the sugar subsidies began in 1999, with the EU currently guaranteeing a price of beet sugar at €26.29, while white sugar will fetch a guaranteed €404.40 per tonne. Sugar producers get a sweet deal from the EU.
If Osborne believes in taxing things to suppress demand, why is he subsidising the same things? By ensuring the price of sugar, the EU encourages sugar consumption, yet the Chancellor still won’t withdraw support for the generous subsidies…
Jamie Oliver is all over the BBC celebrating his punitive sugar tax – but this is sweet hypocrisy. On his website, Jamie offers a series of recipes aimed at children. A bowl of granola for a child’s breakfast, advertised as “a healthy and delicious start to the day”, contains an unbelievable 20.9g of sugar. That’s 23% of an adult’s daily recommended intake, and this is supposed to be for a child.
What about his “Epic chocolate and beetroot cake”, which contains 15.8g of sugar per serving, or 18% of an adult’s daily intake:
Then there is Jamie’s toffee, fruit and nut cookies for kids. They contain an incredible 24.5g of sugar per serving, a huge 27% of an adult’s recommended intake. Remember, these are recipes recommended for children.
The show-stopper: Jamie’s “children’s party cake”. It contains a staggering 32.5g of sugar per serving, or 36% of an adult’s daily intake:
Experts recommend 4-8 year olds should have 12g of sugar per day, teenagers should have 20-32 grams. A single serving of this Jamie recipe surpasses the maximum recommended teenager’s sugar allowance, and three times that of 8 year olds…
George Osborne’s sugar tax extends the reach of the nanny state, it is a punitive, regressive tax that will hit the poorest hardest. The Chancellor told the House: “We understand that tax effects behaviour. So let’s tax the things we want to reduce”. This is a naked attempt to coerce individuals into behaving how the state desires, making them pay if they don’t conform.
Extensive research from the Institute of Economic Affairs shows that sugar taxes are a highly regressive tax on the poor. They take a considerably greater share of income from the poor than the rich. Lower income consumers are also less responsive to price changes than the rich. This massively exacerbates the regressive impact.
Research also shows that rather than encouraging consumers to cut sugary drinks out of their diets, sugar taxes force them into buying cheaper, inferior products, sometimes switching to higher calorie drinks in the process. Sugar taxes have been tried in various US states, France, Hungary, Finland, Mexico and Denmark. No impact on obesity or health has ever been found as a result of a sugar tax.
Another point: a pint of cider can contain 20 grams of sugar, yet Osborne is freezing cider duty. Will he then be slapping cider drinkers with a stealth sugar tax instead? Millionaire Jamie Oliver won’t notice the sugar tax hit him in the pocket, the families to whom he preaches on telly will…