Excise tax on salty foods proposed

Excise tax on salty foods proposed

A shopper purchases instant noodles at a supermarket.

The government is inching towards the introduction of an excise tax on salty, processed foods, says Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

While declining to specify the date of tax enforcement and tax rates, he said Thais consume more than 3,600 milligrammes of sodium per person daily, higher than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of no more than 2,000 mg per day.

Such a tax will encourage the manufacturers of salty, processed food to reduce the sodium amount in their products, Mr Arkhom said.

During the initial phase, the tax aims to reduce sodium consumption by 20% to no more than 2,800 mg per person daily, he said.

High levels of sodium have been linked to high blood pressure as well as kidney and heart problems, said Mr Arkhom.

Nutthakorn Utensute, principal adviser on excise control system development for the Excise Department, said the tax targets instant noodles, frozen foods, snacks and seasoning sauces.

He said the tax collection will be enforced gradually with a target of curbing sodium consumption to no more than 2,800 mg per person per day within eight years.

Mr Nutthakorn said over the course of three meals, this results in roughly 900 mg per person per meal.

Food that contains more than 900 mg of sodium might risk higher taxes than those with lower sodium levels, he said.

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