The UK’s seven largest food retailers have signed up to a Government-backed pledge to encourage consumers to make healthier choices.

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The Public Health Responsibility Deal, co-ordinated by the Department of Health, is being supported by Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Co-operative Group and Waitrose.

Pledges retailers have signed up to include increasing unit awareness on alcoholic drinks and to expand funding of local alcohol programmes.

British Retail Consortium food director Andrew Opie said: “The Responsibility Deal being launched this week is a significant development bringing together industry, the Government and campaign groups to help promote healthy eating and drinking habits.

“Customers make the final decision about what goes in their baskets but retailers do a lot to help shoppers look after their own and their families’ health.

“Retailers have pioneered healthy eating initiatives such as the introduction of clear calorie information on packs and the removal of artificial trans-fats. They offer customers thousands of healthy products to choose from and these are often included in promotions and special offers.

 “The next step must be more involvement from other sectors, such as manufacturing and catering.

“Having a healthier population involves everyone playing their part. The Responsibility Deal is more evidence that the retail sector takes its responsibilities seriously.”