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Horse meat: Tide turns on food regulation

By Ian Dunt

The government is coming under pressure to bolster food regulation, amid continued outrage at the horse meat fiasco.

MPs on the environment, food and rural affairs committee said the scandal showed regulators needed more power and the government should think twice before further deregulating the industry.

"The scale of contamination emerging in the meat supply chain is breath-taking," said chair Anne McIntosh.

"Restoring customer confidence will take time and money. The government has a role to secure the correct balance between affordable food prices and effective regulations that require transparency and quality."

MPs demanded the Food Standards Authority (FSA) be given statutory powers to require food producers to undertake testing and that all testing reports be sent to the FSA regardless of whether they mandated them or not.

They also recommended a broader range of testing to provide greater reassurance to consumers and for the government to hold off any reduction in food labelling standards.

"This damning report makes clear the Tories' reckless break-up of the Food Standards Agency in 2010 has harmed the government's capacity to deal with the horse meat scandal," shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said.

The report comes a day after David Cameron promised the "full intervention of the law" of those who fraudulently introduced horse meat into the food chain.

A meat firm near Aberystwyth and a slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire were raided by the Food Standards Agency and police while a Glasgow firm was named as the source of Waitrose beef meatballs possibly containing pork.