French MPs take aim at ready meals with salt tax call

Parliamentary committee set to propose tax in report into industrial food production

A salt tax could be introduced in France, as MPs look for ways to combat rising obesity and health issues in France.

A group of 20 MPs carrying out an investigation into industrial food production, is set to recommend a tax on salt in food in a bid to force manufacturers to reduce levels, Le Figaro reports.

In 2010, Fleury-Michon, Maggi and Findus were among 19 food production companies that committed themselves to reducing salt levels in their products. And in May 2015, industrial producers of charcuterie pledged to reduce the amount of salt and fat in 12 new products by 5%.

However, the MPs have said it these promises are not enough, and - in a report due for publication in September - are set to propose the tax to force food producers to go further more quickly.

"Nothing justifies the amount [of salt] that is found in many dishes," said the committee's spokesperson, MP for La Republique en Marche, Michele Crouzet.

"The consumer has no choice: most of the salt that they eat is found in pre-prepared dishes," he added, saying that consumption of ready meals in France in recent years was 'exploding'.

The World Health Organisation recommends that people limit their salt consumption to five grammes per day. In France, the average daily consumption is eight grammes.

Salt was taxed in France from the mid-14th century until 1790, due to its value as a food preservative. Members of the nobility and clergy were exempt from the high tariffs - which led, among those who had to pay, to massive amounts of salt smuggling. The salt tax was listed as one of the grievances drawn up in 1789 on the eve of the revolution.

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