A cross party committee set up to investigate the horse meat scandal has called for more power to be handed to the Food Standards Agency.

The report, released this morning by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee, has called on the government to allow the FSA to demand producers undertake testing, that testing results must be reported to the FSA, and that a broader range of testing is carried out to provide greater assurance to consumers.

The committee has also cautioned the government against reducing the labelling standards applied to British food.

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

“More revelations will doubtless come to light in the UK and across the EU. There is every indication that horse meat has been intentionally substituted for beef by criminals with access to the food industry. Elements within the food industry have duped consumers in the UK and across Europe in pursuit of profit.

“The government must ensure effective traceability requirements in respect of the sale and marketing of processed foods originating from EU member states, including the UK.

“Retailers have responsibilities to ensure UK consumers get food that is labelled accurately and provides sufficient information to make informed decisions about their purchases.

“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.

“The consumer cannot be left to face a catch 22 where they can either pay for food that complies with the highest standards of traceability, labelling and testing or accept that they cannot trust the provenance and composition of the foods they eat.”