The third-party inspection company Efsis has created a new 'stepping stone' standard for small manufacturers aspiring to the full British Retail Consortium (BRC) accreditation.
Efsis said that the Safety and Legal Standard would make it easier for firms to get their products into major retailers.
The standard has only 20 sections for manufacturers to pass, compared with 36 under the full BRC audit that is required of large companies by some retailers.
The department store Selfridges already recognises the Safety and Legal Standard as a guarantee of the quality of products from its small suppliers, said Efsis.
According to Efsis, the standard guarantees food safety assurance for consumers but is cheaper and easier for smaller food manufacturers to obtain. It is less than half the price of obtaining full Efsis/BRC accreditation.
"We saw a need for a standard which would ensure compliance with all food safety regulation and relevant legislation with a common-sense approach, specifically designed for small operators," said Jacki Kerr, the Efsis key account manager. "Without a standard of this type, these producers tend to rely on local authority officials to help them do the right thing."
The standard is not part of the normal accreditation system for food standards, which allows Efsis inspectors to give advice on what companies need to do to comply.