Don’t tax the health of Ireland

Posted on: 9th April, 2019

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

While the best means to achieve peak nutrition is through a fully balanced diet – one containing plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – in reality this isn’t always possible or practical.

Years of intensive farming have decreased the microbiome of the soil, which in turn, means we are getting fewer nutrients from our food.

Women of childbearing age are recommended to take folic acid before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects.

Vitamin D, important for the development of healthy bone, muscles and teeth, is mainly produced in the body by exposure of the skin to sunlight. The little sunshine we get here in Ireland means that we need to supplement with vitamin D.

Very low B12 intakes can cause anaemia and nervous system damage. B12 is generally found in animal foods, which means strict vegetarians and vegans need to supplement. 

Many people with autoimmune diseases suffer from nutrient deficiencies and need to supplement.

We now know how important our gut health is to our physical and mental wellbeing. Probiotics help us restore our gut flora after a round of antibiotics.

It’s a fact – there are lifestyle issues and some long-term health conditions that necessitate the need for supplementation.

There are a large number of approved, science-backed claims that can be legally attributed to certain specified nutrients. Apart from these, food supplements are marketed without claims.

Defined as food by the European Food Safety Authority, food supplements have until now been treated as foods for VAT purposes, availing of the concessionary zero per cent rate applicable to foods in Ireland for more than 40 years.

Following intervention by the Minister of Finance, after over 60,000 people signed the petition against the 23 per cent VAT increase, the Revenue Commissioners has delayed the introduction of the VAT increase until November 1.

Health Stores Ireland, the body representing 200 independent health food stores, are continuing the campaign to have all food supplements supplied at zero VAT.

Campaign spokesperson, Matt Ronan, said “the deferral was extremely welcome and we appreciate the move towards this by Minister Paschal Donohoe, but we must remember that it is only a deferral. We have broad political and public support for legislation to be brought before the Dail to enshrine the tax-free status of food supplements. Health Stores Ireland will be keeping the campaign active right up to November 1, but we fully expect the Minister to keep his promise to engage with stakeholders and bring forward legislation via Budget 2020.”

The campaign will focus immediately on the local and European elections and subsequently on the Department of Finance. Health Stores Ireland are continuing with their petition gathering, which has exceeded 75,000, and are urging the public to continue to raise the matter with their public representatives.  

To highlight the importance of this campaign, West Cork People chats to nutritionists and health store customers all over West Cork, who depend on supplements for their health.

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