Supermarkets could be named and shamed if illegal workers are involved in picking or packing produce for suppliers, under a sanction in the new Gangmasters Licensing Authority, which starts on April 1st.

Paul Whitehouse, the former Chief Constable of Sussex who is to chair the new authority, said his job was to eliminate all exploitation of workers from agriculture and the shellfish industry, as reported in The Times today.

Whitehouse said that in future supermarkets could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the use of illegal labour.

Prosecution could arise if a supermarket or food company had been warned that its supply chain was in breach of the law and the retailer had then failed to take action.

He also said the key was for supermarkets to ensure that food prices reflected the true costs of employing workers for picking flowers, fruit and vegetables or gathering shellfish from the shore even if this may mean an increase in costs.