Which? is calling for government action to address a decline in consumer trust in the food chain following the horsemeat scandal.

Consumer trust in the food industry had dropped by 24%, a Which? survey indicated. Thirty percent of shoppers were now buying less processed meat and 24% were buying fewer ready meals with meat in, or choosing vegetarian options, it said.

Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed also felt the government had not been giving enough attention to enforcing labelling laws. As a result, Which? has thrown down the gauntlet to government, setting out a five-point plan. It has asked for surveillance that is better co-ordinated, as well as tougher enforcement, tighter legislation, improved food labelling and a return of food labelling policy to the Food Standards Agency.

The horsemeat scandal had exposed the need for urgent changes to the way food fraud was detected and standards were enforced, said Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd. “These serious failings must be put right if consumers are to feel fully confident in the food they are buying.”