All retailers handling fresh meat will be required to obtain a licence by November under new regulations put before parliament this week coinciding with the launch of the Food Standards Agency. The new local authority licences will cost retailers £100 a year and will be awarded on the completion of government sponsored training in basic food hygiene. The government has spent £4.5m on bringing 7,400 butchers into the scheme. The licences can be revoked at any time. The licences will cover 12,000 premises taking in supermarkets and other handlers of fresh meat. FSA chairman Sir John Krebs said: "The priority will be spreading good practice through training rather than going hell for leather for more licensing of other food outlets." He has also committed the agency to reducing instances of salmonella in chickens by 50% within five years. In 1999 the FSA believes between 20% and 30% of chickens on sale were infected. The figure was 30% to 40% in 1998. {{NEWS }}