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Andrew Lansley leads the way in showing that nudging trumps nannying

By Jonathan Isaby

Andrew Lansley 2 2010 The Labour Government's answer to any perceived problem was generally to introduce a new law or regulation.

That is not - or at least ought not be - the Conservative way of doing things and today we see a fine example of a minister seeking positive outcomes through voluntary agreements and nudging rather than regulating and nannying.

As reported by the Press Association and other media outlets, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is negotiating voluntary "responsibility deals" with the food industry with the aim of helping people to make healthy eating choices.

Members of the Food Network - an industry body including, among others, the big supermarkets and fast food chains - are being asked to sign up to a deal whereby restaurants, fast food outlets, takeaways and so on would put calorie labels on their menus from this September.

Much of that information is already hidden away on websites, but if available at the point of sale it would assist consumers in making informed choices about their eating.

Lansley is also seeking an agreement with them to remove artificial trans-fats from their products by the end of the year and to reduce the salt content of a wide range of foods by 2012.

Departmental officials point out that this venture will see action taken faster than if legislation and associated regulations were being introduced - and at far less cost to the taxpayer. Very encouraging news.

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