One year after the last case of foot and mouth two separate reports have severely criticised the government's handling of the crisis both during and since the outbreak of 2001.

One report is the result of a year-long inquiry, in which a cross-party panel of MEPs has been taking evidence for a draft document drawn up by a special European Parliament committee.

It said that the government's policies traumatised farmers and broke animal welfare laws. And also blamed red tape and bureaucratic delays in dealing with the disposal of slaughtered animals.

Separately, a National Farmers' Union survey has found that the government’s attempts to control illegal meat imports in the wake of the outbreak “are woefully inadequate”.

NFU president Ben Gill said the government’s own Lessons to be Learned report into the outbreak recommended that DEFRA be charged with educating arriving passengers of the threats posed by illegal imports.

Gill noted: “Furthermore, DEFRA’s additional activity on detecting illegal imports consists of two sniffer dogs at Heathrow Airport to deal with the 219,000 bags that arrive each day.”

An NFU survey of 10,000 passengers arriving in Britain found that 4% of travellers were given information about import restrictions while 96% failed to notice any information posters.

The NFU added that the European Commission’s decision to prohibit the personal importation of meat and milk products into the EU from January next year would put the pressure on the UK government “to lift its game”.