Government efforts to clamp down on the illegal practices of gangmasters - who run gangs of casual labour to pick and pack fresh produce - have been slammed as “woefully inadequate”.

A report published today by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, concludes the government failed to provide sufficient resources to beat the problem. And highlights everything from the use of illegal immigrants to tax dodging as just some of the activities of gangmasters.

The supermarkets have also come under fire. The committee noted their dominant position was a major contributor to an environment that allowed illegal gangmaster activity to take root.

The retailers were also called upon to re-examine their labour policies.

The committee recommended that the government’s Operation Gangmaster be revitalised, but under the direct leadership of a DEFRA minister.

Committee chairman David Curry MP said: “Responsibility does not just lie with government. The industry has much to do if this is not to become an integral part of the way produce reaches our tables.”