Jamie Oliver: if the drinks industry think I’m just a “mouthy buffoon”, they’d better watch out

The campaigning TV chef says he is "ready for a fight" over his plans for a sugar tax on sweetened drinks

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He says he has been written off as a “TV chef who has got too big for his boots”, but Jamie Oliver is preparing for a serious fight over his plans for a sugar tax on sweetened drinks.

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The chef has stepped up his commitment to campaigning for a levy on every can or bottle of soft drink sold, writing in the Daily Mail that he would be “hugely surprised and disappointed” if Prime Minister David Cameron had rejected proposals for a sugary drinks tax out of hand.

“In my meetings with him on the subject,” he wrote, “I’ve outlined my own experiences of seeing just how devastating too much sugar can be.

“The food and drinks lobby might try to present me as a TV chef who has got too big for his boots. But I’m basing my arguments on the evidence of numerous doctors and scientists.”

Last month Oliver presented a documentary about the unhealthy levels of sugar in the food and drink we eat, and focused in particular on the amount of sugar in soft drinks, and the effect it has on children.

“A 500ml bottle of cola has 13 1/2 teaspoons. What?” he said to Radio Times, underlining his “categoric belief in a sugar tax”.

“We need coding, we need snapshots… Half the sugar you consume is hidden in foods. The single largest amount of calories consumed by our children is in sugary soft drinks. They’re a business and they categorically don’t believe in a sugar tax.”

Hi guys…In this picture I've stuck on how many TeaSpoons of sugar are inside these drinks to give you clear and quick clarity so you can be aware. The industry doesn't like this idea because in my opinion they would prefer you to be confused so you buy more product. confusion = ££! have a look at the current nutritional labelling below my hack, there is no way it's as clear and fast to understand is it?! Also guys be aware that these amounts apply to 250ml which is Half the bottle AND this is for Adult reference intake ?!? Not a child's ??? Confused Yeah!!😕 What would you prefer to see on labels for speed and clarity. ???? Please say in the comments below. This is at a crucial time when our Prime Minister Mr Cameron builds the Childhood Obesity Strategy, one of the most profoundly important actions of our time to protect child health for a happier healthier more productive future. He will be expected to bring many logical actions together to support better health and support busy parents. This simple labelling exercise is about honesty. My Belief is that if the Public are given "Good Clear Information " then you often make pretty good choices. The coming months will bring me much ridicule from industry so our only hope is that you guys have your voice heard… I do this for you guys tell me what you think Big love #jamieoliver

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Oliver is lobbying for a 7p levy on every 330ml can of drink containing added sugar. Public Health England on Tuesday backed proposals for a sugar tax, with director of diet and obesity Dr Alison Tedstone telling MPs that the organisation “does see a role for a fiscal approach in reducing sugary drink consumption.”

The son of pub-owning parents, Oliver told drinks manufacturers not to underestimate him: “Rather than trying to write me off as a mouthy buffoon, the big food and drink manufacturers should remember that I know their industry well.” He has already imposed a 10p levy of his own in the UK restaurants he owns on non-alcoholic soft drinks.

Oliver also challenged TV advertising of sugary drinks, saying he was “infuriated by the amount of unhealthy advertising in the commercial breaks” of Britain’s Got Talent.

“If we truly care about prosperity and our little island remaining economically relevant in the world over the next 30 years or so, we need bright and healthy British kids,” he said.

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“That’s something that I’m prepared to campaign long and hard for,” he concluded. “I’m ready for a fight.