UK regulator The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has announced an additional GBP1m (US$1.84m) of grants to local authorities to boost existing funding for the training of small retailers and caterers in food safety.

The additional funds will help businesses to implement the FSA’s Safer food, better business (SFBB) initiative, a programme designed to assist small businesses to comply with the law, manage food safety and reduce incidences of food poisoning.

“Major changes have taken place in food hygiene controls since the beginning of the year, with the requirement for all businesses to have formal food safety management procedures in place,” said David Statham, the FSA’s director of enforcement. “This extra funding for the implementation of Safer food better business will help food businesses comply with the law and further improve safety standards. This is good for public health protection and, in turn, good for business.”

The SFBB programme was introduced by the FSA as one of the tools to help businesses comply with new EU hygiene legislation, which came into force in January 2006. With the additional grant together with the GBP10m already earmarked for the SFBB, the FSA said it would be able to ensure that 150,000 packs reach small caterers and 50,000 packs reach small retailers.

The extra GBP1m will fund the development of an interactive training resource, and help a further 5,000 businesses through support from a local authority grant scheme, the FSA added.

In order to measure the success of the Agency’s initiatives to improve food hygiene, a survey has been carried out on standards in UK premises. “This data indicates that most businesses are meeting their hygiene obligations, but there is room for improvement,” Statham said. “The extra money we are making available for SFBB initiatives should help businesses raise standards further. In addition, the survey will assist local authorities to target their resources more effectively to improve compliance with the law. We will be holding discussions with local authorities about the survey results and how we can work with them to more effectively tackle non-compliant businesses.”