Health secretary Andrew Lansley has responded to criticism that the Responsibility Deal with food and drink companies lacks a proper evidence base by appointing one of the world’s top research bodies to investigate whether its pledges are working.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which boasts Europe’s biggest public health research faculty, will look into the effectiveness of the network of committees that have overseen the deal since its launch last March.

The Grocer has learned it will also carry out research into pledges made by companies, including plans to slash five billion calories from and a billion units of alcohol the UK diet, to see if they are the best way to tackle public health issues.

The moves come as MPs on the health committee this week called for a rethink on the deal, claiming pledges made, including the reduction of lager abvs, would “not have any significant impact”. They also called on government to launch a “proper independent evaluation”.

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