The Food Standards Agency has announced a £10m (US$18.3m) to be paid to local authorities in England to promote a new food safety initiative.

The money, to be spent over three years, will provide local authority enforcement officers with support and resources so they can assist catering businesses to implement the FSA's new 'Safer food, better business', the agency said. .

This is a simplified food safety management system, which will help catering businesses comply with new food safety legislation. Local authorities are being invited to apply for funding, which will be allocated by the FSA through a grant scheme, it said.

The new legislation will require all food businesses to put in place food safety management systems based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) principles. The primary focus of 'Safer food, better business' will be on small catering businesses.

"The FSA is putting up a substantial sum of money so that local authorities can assist small businesses to get to grips with this new approach," said Tom Murray, head of food hygiene implementation division at the agency. "We feel that the new practical guidance we are developing for small caterers and the funding for local authorities will help simplify food safety for industry and improve standards for consumers."