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Supermarket giants support health initiative

Published:  15 March, 2011

Seven of the UK's supermarket giants have joined the Government's controversial responsibility deal.

Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, The Co-operative and Waitrose have all signed up to the plan that will see a move towards increased awareness of alcohol units on drinks and donations towards regional programmes aimed at tackling alcohol abuse.

The deal between the Government and the food and drink industries also aims to set out voluntary agreements on labelling and advertising.

Asda has pledged not to promote alcohol at the front of store and has promised to invest £1m in community youth projects.

Other drink firms, including Diageo will also put their name to pledges.

It comes on the back of other industry bodies refusing to support the deal such as: Alcohol Concern, the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Physicians, the British Association for the Study of the Liver, the British Liver Trust.

Don Shenker of Alcohol Concern criticised the deal, he said: "By allowing the drinks industry to propose such half-hearted pledges on alcohol with no teeth, this government has clearly shown that when it comes to public health its first priority is to side with big business and protect private profit."

Andy Clarke, president and chief executive officer of Asda said: "Our customers and colleagues expect us to do the right thing and keep their interests at heart and we believe our actions speak louder than words. Our pledge to remove alcohol from the entrance of our store is part of our broader health agenda and is another small, but important step towards creating a new way of selling alcohol at Asda.

"As always, we stand ready to play a leading role by working alongside the Government to tackle alcohol misuse in the UK."

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association, chief executive, Jeremy Beadles said the drinks industry was committed to playing its part alongside other stakeholders in tackling alcohol misuse.

"Today's announcement marks a positive step in a partnership process designed to ensure that consumers have the information they need to make informed choices.

"We look forward to making further progress in the months ahead."

Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley said: "Public health is everyone's responsibility and there is a role for all of us, working in partnership, to tackle these challenges.

"We know that regulation is costly, can take years and is often only determined at an EU-wide level anyway. That's why we have to introduce new ways of achieving better results.

"The deals published today, demonstrate the effectiveness of our radical partnership approach to deliver more and sooner."