Kerala’s junk food tax is an innovation

Kerala always make some innovation and this time it is new Finance Minister Thomas Isaac who extended an idea for thought to his peers in other states through a new tax called ‘fat tax’. Isaac, an ex JNU Professor in Economics imposed 14.5% tax on major junk food items – pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and tacos in the maiden budget of the new LDF government.

The tax will be imposed on branded outlets and will be in sync with the World Health Organization’s proposal to use tax measures to promote healthy food.

In Kerala, there is a long argument against the junk food items sold in big volume though they are the favorite eatable item of the youth. Observers say that the fiscal impact of the tax will be minimal as it is imposed on branded outlets only. The junk items are massively sold through bakeries, unbranded fast food centres etc. than on branded outlets.

But the social psyche may turn more against the junks as parents and children are taking the tax measure as a warning. More than anything else, there is a probability that the tax may be extended to bakery outlets in future.

Hospitals in Kerala are reporting large number of diseases and disorders because of the changing food habits. Medical Practitioners attribute the high incidence of ill health to the fast food and junk food habit. In European countries also, there are tax and other measures against junk foods. Many countries ban junk food in school premises.