The Federation of Wholesale Distributors has slammed proposals in a European White Paper on hygiene regulations, saying they will impose an unfair cost burden on small companies (The Grocer, July 22, p10). FWD director general Alan Toft said: "The giant multiple superstore operators could absorb these costs but smaller independent wholesalers, of which there are about 600 in my organisation, and independent retailers could be damaged." However David Byrne, European commissioner for health and consumer protection, dismissed the cost implications for small food producers and outlets on his first official visit to the UK last week. He said: "It may be that there are costs are involved, but I don't think they will be significant." The White Paper says all foods and ingredients must be traceable. All food producers and food outlets, however small, will be given registration numbers. Each European state will require an inspectorate made up of trained auxiliary staff under a vet's supervision to police the scheme which will become law on January 1 2004 Byrne said: "This may be categorised as drowning in red tape but I don't see it that way. "We need to put these 80 new measures in place to simplify hygiene rules." But Stephen Alambritis, spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "People will just give up as the red tape piles higher and higher." The Food and Drink Federation, however, welcomed the White Paper. A spokesman said: "The UK food manufacturing industry already adheres to similar rules, and I don't think our members will suffer financially from the changes." {{NEWS }}