The newly established Food Standards Agency (FSA) has set itself a target of cutting the number of food poisoning cases in the UK by 20% by 2006.
Up to 4.5 million people a year suffer from food-borne disease, the agency said. About half a million of these were cases of salmonella and campylobacter.
Government figures released in 1997 showed that 44% of food poisoning outbreaks originated from hotels, restaurants and other catering outlets.
The FSA's plans include: improving risk control in small businesses, particularly those involved in processing high-risk foods; making sure that food handlers receive proper training and that the training results in safer practice; and working with local councils to improve surveillance and improvement.
Suzy Leather, deputy chairman of the FSA, said: "Current levels of illness are unacceptable and we will work with the food industry to improve standards and with local authorities to ensure they are effectively enforced.
The FSA has been granted new funding from the Government to tackle the problem of food poisoning, which is estimated to cost the health service up to £350m a year.