Andrew Lansley has slashed the amount of reporting back that food companies have to do to take part in the government’s controversial scheme to cut five billion calories a day from the nation’s diet.

The new calories pledge, unveiled by the Department of Health, lists a range of options companies will be expected to carry out - from reformulation of products to marketing campaigns - to encourage healthier eating.

Companies that sign up to the pledge - the next phase of the health secretary’s Responsibility Deal as well as the central plank of the obesity strategy - will have to report their progress online. However, the DH has downscaled the monitoring process so companies only have to file annual reports rather than the regular updates originally mooted.

The Grocer revealed last month that the DH had watered down the language of the pledge over fears food companies would refuse to take part if they were forced to reformulate products to sign up to the deal.

“The amount of monitoring that was initially talked about would have been a major burden on those wanting to take part,” said a food industry source. “It would have been just like going back to the days of the FSA.”

The DH said it had made changes to the proposals in order to secure the widest possible take-up and was now seeking retail and supply partners to make specific pledges on top of the industry pledge to help launch it.

“This is a major opportunity for the food and drink industry to showcase its work in this area,” said Dr Susan Jebb, co-chair of the Responsibility Deal Food Network.