The Health Department and Sainsbury's are negotiating details about running a joint campaign fronted by the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, to promote the dying concept of family meals as a method of improving the nation's diet.
This would mark a controversial departure for government public health campaigns in its tie-up with a commercial brand. The health department commissioned a report, which stated that such partnerships should be encouraged backed by appropriate ethical guidelines.
This report came close on the heels of the research which showed that expenditure on frozen foods had fallen almost 3% over the past year and sales of meat products and frozen ready meals down more than 8%.
Since then the family meal has been highlighted to be a prominent factor in social cohesion and nutritional well-being. As few as three in 10 families have been found to sit to eat together more than once a week, with these often watching television at the same time. In fact it was found that the dining table had been dropped from the official basket of goods, which was said to reflect the country's buying habits.
Dr Fiona Adshead, the deputy chief medical officer for England, told public health experts yesterday: "Over the coming weeks, we are going to be working with Sainsbury's and Jamie Oliver about how do we get families back eating together by thinking about basic recipes."
It has been rumored that Sainsbury's pays the TV chef an estimated Ģ1m a year to star in its advertisements. The proposed campaign showed a growing trend for companies to get involved in promotion of healthy living.