As the furore over the horse meat scandal continues, supermarkets look set to benefit from new “light touch” food safety and hygiene regimes that will see supermarkets come under far less scrutiny than smaller food outlets.

The move is part of a plan to save local authorities tens of millions of pounds as they struggle to cope with reduced staffing levels.

The FSA is working with local authorities and the Better Regulation Delivery Office on pilots that will target resources at higher-risk premises and allow policing of multiples to be overseen by a lead authority rather than hundreds of local councils.

FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said the trial would see a “significant change and reduction in the number of inspections” for retailers with a strong food safety record.