Responsibility Deal Food Network

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The Responsibility Deal Food Network has a broad remit, with a specific focus on the content of food, promoting healthier food choices, improving availability of healthy food and providing information to consumers. The network has so far agreed three pledges: to provide calorie information for consumers eating out; reduce the salt content of food; and transfats. The network is chaired by Susan Jebb and supported by the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. A steering group will set the direction, pace and priorities of the work programme. [1]

Collective pledges

  • To provide calorie information for food and non alcoholic drink in out of home settings from 1 September 2011
  • Reach agreed salt reduction targets by the end of 2012
  • To remove transfats from products by the end of 2011



Following the refusal of six health groups from the alcohol field to work within the Responsibility Deal Network (RDA) The British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK also felt unable to sign up to the network. [3] The reasons for their refusal to participate were again that the deal was better for industry than for the health of the public, the RDA proposals are narrow and have often already been agreed in other policy circles, overall the networks do not provide a genuine opportunity to work towards improving public health. Like the alcohol network the pledges presented by the food network are all minor, many have already been agreed elsewhere and allow industry a PR opportunity while requiring them to do very little. The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee has also been critical:

"Public Health Responsibility Deal pledge on obesity is not a proportionate response to the scale of the problem. If the Government intend to continue to use agreements with businesses as a way of changing the population‘s behaviour, we urge them to ensure that these are based on the best available evidence about the most effective measures to tackle obesity at a population level. In particular, they should consider the ways in which businesses themselves influence the behaviour of the population in unhealthy ways. If effective measures cannot be achieved through agreement, the Government must pursue them through other means". [4]

Calorie Labelling

The pledge to label calorie information on products to be consumed out of the home is a small step and partners are not obliged to include any other nutritional information on their products preventing the consumer from having full product information. Furthermore many of the partners who have agreed to this pledge strongly refused to adhere to previous labelling standards proposed in the traffic light scheme. In fact a vigorous campaign was embarked on by many large food producers and retailers that undermined the cohesive and simple traffic lights system.

Salt Reduction

Campaigners claim that to make an impact on public health with regard to salt reduction would require a daily 6g. The RDA pledge on salt reduction will only reduce salt consumption by 1g a day. [5] So this pledge does not go far enough. Furthermore the level of salt reduction partners have signed up to was already agreed in 2008 for the Food Standards Association 2012 salt reduction targets.

Removal of Trans fat

The food industry's pledge to remove trans fats by the end of 2011 has already been done by many of the large food companies. This deal was agreed in 2007 when the British Retail Consortium announced that most major retailers, including Tesco, Asda, Boots, Iceland, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's and Waitrose would remove trans fats from their own brand products by the end of 2007. According to Sustain this pledge is therefore out dated and only applies to some small and medium sized retailers who are not included within the network. [6] Sustain also highlight the levels of saturated fat in products that constitutes a greater problem than trans fats in relation ot heart disease. Saturated fat levels are not included in any of the pledges.

Food Network steering group members


Related Responsibility Deal Networks


  1. Department of Health Food Network accessed 7th September 2011
  2. Department of Health Public Health Responsibility Deal Food Pledges accessed 10th September 2011
  3. Sustain The Irresponsibility Deal Why the Government’s Responsibility Deal is better for the food industry than public health accessed 12th September 2011
  4. House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Publications CHAPTER 5: THE GOVERNMENT APPROACH TO CHANGING BEHAVIOUR (para 7.20) accessed 21st September 2011
  5. Sustain The Irresponsibility Deal Why the Government’s Responsibility Deal is better for the food industry than public health accessed 12th September 2011
  6. Sustain The Irresponsibility Deal Why the Government’s Responsibility Deal is better for the food industry than public health accessed 12th September 2011
  7. Department of Health Food Network Members accessed 7th September 2011