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Hungary could ban some unhealthy foods

Some unhealthy foods could be prohibited from the Hungarian market, Rural Development Ministry state secretary József Ángyán told MTI on Monday.

Very unhealthy foods could be dealt with using extraordinary measures, Ángyán said.

The Rural Development Ministry and the National Resources Ministry will carry out a joint review of certain foods and components of food, such as trans-fats and synthetic additives, to determine if they are unhealthy, he added.

Hungary's government on Tuesday decided to introduce a tax on food and drinks that are high in sugar, salt, carbohydrates and caffeine. If the tax is approved by Parliament, it is to be introduced from September 1. Revenue from the tax will be used for public health matters.

The bill was submitted to Parliament on Friday.

Sándor Font, an MP of governing Fidesz and one of the bill's authors, told Parliament's Audit and Budget Committee on Monday that the tax is expected to raise HUF 20 billion a year which can be used to create incentives for makers of unhealthy foods to replace those products with healthy ones. The tax could raise HUF 3bn-5 billion yet this year, he added.

The bill would level a HUF 5 per liter tax on sugary drinks with less than 25% fruit content. Makers of energy drinks would pay HUF 250 per liter of product. The tax would be HUF 100 per kilogram for pre-packaged cakes and HUF 200 per kilogram for salty snacks. Makers of food flavorings would pay HUF 500 per kilogram.