Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has claimed the government’s Responsibility Deal has achieved success that could not have happened through regulation.

Hunt, speaking on the day retailers and suppliers announced the latest pledges under the Deal, aimed at ramping up the amount of fruit and veg in stores, said the role of the food and drink industry had been “critical” in driving change towards healthier diets.

He singled out moves to slash calories in food, better labelling of alcoholic drinks and moves to lower alcohol wines and beers as proof that companies “take the health of customers seriously”.

“There are many areas where action cannot be achieved through regulation,” Hunt says in a letter to Responsbility Deal partners due to go out tomorrow.

“Instead we want to work in partnership with business,” he adds.