Industry lobby groups have criticised European Union proposals to exempt small businesses from food safety legislation.
Under the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), all businesses dealing with food must comply with a number of requirements relating to hygiene.
MEP Horst Schellhardt has suggested a compromise amendment allowing businesses employing fewer than 10 people to be exempt from keeping HACCP records, in a bid to cut red tape.
But the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), the British Retail Consortium, the Food and Drink Federation insist it is precisely these businesses which are often responsible for food poisoning outbreaks.
CIEH principal policy officer Jenny Morris said: "We believe that, if implemented, the amendment would in fact weaken existing rules on food safety and increase the difficulties faced by the competent authority and its officers."
The proposal to inspect the 400,000 micro food premises every 12 months would also be extremely difficult, the CIEH warned.
The European Parliament will discuss the matter further next month.
By Gemma Sharkey
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