The Food Standards Agency has disputed claims by a business think-tank that new traceability laws could cost businesses an extra £850m in added bureaucracy.
The agency has stressed that the new laws, which came into effect on 1 January this year, apply to all food businesses, including hotels and restaurants.
The Forum of Private Business had suggested in January that hotels and restaurants would be exempt for the time being, although their suppliers would not be.
Under the new laws, businesses must identify who has supplied any food, feed, food-producing animals and ingredients to their business, identify the businesses to which products have been supplied, maintain appropriate records and ensure information is made available to competent authorities on demand.
But the FSA has stressed this will not necessarily mean businesses having to put in expensive new systems or bureaucracy.
In most cases, the existing paper-based systems used by hotels and restaurants to trace their supply, or used for tax and process management purposes, would be sufficient to comply with the regulations, it said.
"The figures quoted by the Forum would seem to suggest their members believe that the new legal requirements will necessitate the introduction of expensive traceability systems. This is not the case," said a spokesman.
by Nic Paton
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