Alcohol chiefs advising on public health policy is 'naïve', says Diane Abbott

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Government, Medicine

High profile Labour MP Diane Abbott has branded a government plan to take advice from the drinks and food industry on public health policy as...

High profile Labour MP Diane Abbott has branded a government plan to take advice from the drinks and food industry on public health policy as "naïve" and "desperate".

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley met around 100 senior drinks industry figures last month - including pubco chiefs - to lay out plans for a "responsibility deal" being drawn up between the trade and government.

The deal is a push to build a social responsibility partnership between government and business - instead of relying on state regulation.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, is heading up a network for the alcohol industry, which also includes Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, of the Alcohol Health Alliance.

But Abbott said: "This is the worst idea the coalition has come up with yet. They are clearly so desperate for guidance that they have turned to the very last people you would expect to get ideas."

The government is also reportedly talking to fast food chains McDonald's and KFC and companies such as Mars and Kellogg's to advise them on policy on obesity and diet-related disease.

Abbott added: "It is naïve to think that those who make their livelihoods by selling fast food and alcohol will be able to advise the coalition impartially, and that they will put their business interests entirely behind them to tell the government what they should do to make people healthier."

But a Department of Health spokesman said: "For the forthcoming public health white paper we've engaged a wide range of people, as we are also doing to help us develop the responsibility deal drawn from business, the voluntary sector, other non-governmental organisations, local government, as well as public health bodies.

"A diverse range of experts are also involved."

Related topics: Health & safety

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