Tax levies on 100% fruit snacks could be the start of a push by the government to begin charging VAT on healthy foods that were previously exempt, the National Dried Fruit Association warned this week.

The government changed its guidance to charge VAT on 100% unsweetened fruit bars and sweetened dried fruit sold for snacking last year.

But the amendments were not widely publicised, NDFA spokesman Phil Whitfield said, with manufacturers only becoming aware of the new guidelines over the past eight weeks following visits by HMRC.

“The move sets the scene for charging VAT on other foods,” said Whitfield. “The guidance is disgusting.”

He cited the warning made last week by Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose at a supplier conference that the government was looking to further extend the scope of VAT on food.