A 79 per cent health tax on sausages and bacon could hit takings, according to an award-winning Oxfordshire butchers.

Last week Patrick Strainge Butchers in Bampton, a favourite with the cast and crew of Downton Abbey which is filmed in the West Oxfordshire village, announced four golds in the Smithfield industry awards.

Manager Ollie Weaver collected the awards, which celebrate 'craft butchery', during a ceremony at Stationers Hall last month.

Prize-winning cuts included old traditional sausage, spiced plum sausage, smoked back bacon and unsmoked back bacon.

But the alarming contents of a report from Oxford University, which recommends a health tax on sausages and bacon, could prompt some customers to think twice before consuming their cooked breakfasts.

The Oxford Times:

"It's ironic that this report has come out so soon after we picked up the awards," said Ollie Weaver, of Patrick Strainge Butchers.

"I think it could have a knock-on effect on sales - people will still buy our sausages and bacon but they might not buy quite so much.

"I eat sausages and bacon twice a week and this isn't going to make me change the way I behave but I will have a close look at this report."

Sausages and bacon should have their prices raised by 79 per cent to prevent nearly 6,000 deaths a year and save the NHS more than £734m, according to the new study. A 14 per cent tax on steak is also being proposed.

Raising taxes on red and processed meats enough to offset their cost to the health service could prevent hundreds of thousands of cancers, heart attacks and strokes, Oxford University researchers said.

Globally this would mean 220,000 fewer deaths a year and savings of $40bn (£30.6bn) if every country adopted a tailored levy based on their current levels of meat eating, they added.

The study was led by Dr Marco Springmann, of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food and the Nuffield Department of Population Health.

It estimates that in 2020 there will be 2.4 million deaths attributable to red and processed meat consumption, as well as $285 billion in costs related to healthcare.

Like taxes on other products that can harm health including alcohol, tobacco and sugar, a tax on red and processed meat could encourage consumers to make healthier choices.

The research suggests that if the health taxes were introduced, consumption of processed meat would decline by about two portions per week in high-income countries and by 16 per cent globally, while unprocessed red meat consumption would remain steady, due to consumers substituting it for processed meat.

Dr Springmann said: "'I hope that governments will consider introducing a health levy on red and processed meat as part of a range of measures to make healthy and sustainable decision-making easier for consumers.

"A health levy on red and processed meat would not limit choices, but send a powerful signal to consumers and take pressure off our healthcare systems."

The Oxford Times:

Mr Weaver is adamant the report will not stop customers buying his delicious sausages.

He said: "This is down to personal choice - it's possible customers might end up not buying sausages and bacon quite as often."