The UK's Department of Health has entered into negotiations with private companies to promote healthy eating habits in a partnership between government public health campaigns and the commercial sector, the Department of Health told just-food today (27 June).

"We've been talking with all kinds of companies - from food retailers and manufacturers to voluntary and community organisations," DoH spokesperson Brenda Irons told just-food.

Reports in the UK press have said that a joint campaign with UK food retailer Sainsbury's will focus on encouraging family meal times and will be fronted by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Commenting on the possible tie-up, a spokesperson for Sainsbury's told just-food: "It is a suggestion that has been put forward, not a concrete agreement. Discussions are taking place between the Department of Health and lots of companies - Sainsbury's is just one example. The promotion of family meals has not been discussed."

Responding to media reports that such a partnership could be controversial and undermine the separation between the government and private enterprise, the DoH emphasised that collaboration with private companies across the industry was not a new policy. "Working with the commercial sector is nothing new," said Irons. "We've been working with them on food labelling, advertising, and reducing salt, sugar and fat in packaged foods," she continued.