A well-known West Country farmer and farm shop owner is calling on the government to hold a public inquiry into the horsemeat scandal.

“It’s now clear just how deeply the entire convenience food sector has become mired in the scandal over adulterated products,” says Richard Haddock.

Calling for “a full public inquiry with the widest possible brief”, the Devon farmer adds: “The horsemeat scandal is just one facet of the disgraceful practice of selling cheap, adulterated and third-rate processed foods, an activity which damages the nation’s health and has forced scores of decent meat traders out of business.”

Clearer labelling on foods, particularly processed products such as ready meals, would offer insufficient protection to consumers against “commercial interests determined to inflate their profits by downgrading ingredients”.

“What is most startling about the current situation is the way responsibility for the foisting of horsemeat on consumers is being passed from company to company like a rugby ball being passed along a well-drilled forward line,” said Mr Haddock.

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