Heineken to cut alcohol content in one brand

Heineken is to cut the alcohol content of one of its major brands after signing up to a Government deal on public health.

The firm, which makes Heineken, Foster's, John Smith's and Kronenbourg, has not yet unveiled which brand will see its alcohol content reduced.

It has signed up to the Government's "responsibility deal", which includes major food and drink companies.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley wants firms to join the deal as a voluntary movement to reduce the amount of unhealthy sugar, salt and fat in food, and encourage people to drink responsibly.

Mr Lansley hopes measures aimed at better labelling and more information for consumers will eliminate the need for tough regulation.

As part of today's announcement, Heineken, which also makes the ciders Bulmers and Strongbow, will carry information about alcohol units on all its branded drinking glasses.

Supermarket giant Asda has also pledged to end front-of-store alcohol displays by the end of April.

It will also commit £1 million to community projects for young people aimed at responsible drinking.

The drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction will look into suitable schemes for the funds.

On Tuesday, Mr Lansley will unveil commitments made by around 150 other companies.

He hopes it will encourage other businesses and charities to join the responsibility deal.

In January, Mr Lansley told junk food manufacturers he wanted to avoid "intrusive, restrictive and costly regulation".

He told senior executives from companies including Mars and PepsiCo that ministers were not interested in "nannying" people about their food choices.

The Government has come under fire for rolling back its spending on the popular Change4Life health campaign in favour of getting commercial companies and charities to fill the gap.

Cadbury, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Kraft, Mars, Nestle and PepsiCo have all been involved, alongside Britvic and supermarket giant Tesco.

Care services minister Paul Burstow said today the move by Heineken and Asda was a "breakthrough for the coalition's voluntary approach in getting business to change their approach and improve the public's health".

He added: "It is a clear sign that the big companies are willing to show some responsibility to tackle the problems associated with increasing alcohol consumption.

"But this is just a start I want more companies, charities, public sector organisations to join us, making a real contribution to helping to improve the nation's health."