The Department of Health (DoH) is attempting to revive voluntary schemes for calorie labelling, similar to those put in place by the Labour government.

Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley has formally written to all members of the DoH’s Food Network, including Subway, Pizza Hut and United Biscuits, to ask for a written commitment to sign up to three initial areas, which look set to be included in its Responsibility Deal Food Network’s work programme, due to be announced soon. These comprise: calories on menus; a reduction in salt content; and the removal of artificial trans fats.

Although only Food Network members have been approached so far, a spokesperson for the DoH said once the Deals have been announced, it wants as many food businesses to take part as possible. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) began a consultation in December 2009, designed to develop recommendations for displaying calorie information in foodservice outlets, but only five of the 21 food-service businesses trialling calorie labelling at the point of choice decided to continue with the scheme.

When asked why the new coalition government would succeed where the FSA previously failed, the spokesperson said the DoH had looked at the trials carried out by the FSA and learned from them, looking at what worked and what didn’t, and was keen to achieve a consistent approach on the high street.