North Yorkshire MP and chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Anne McIntosh, has and criticised the Food Standards Agency for being so slow to react to the horse meat revelations and called for a temporary ban on processed meat from France, Poland and Ireland.

The food committee questioned those involved in the horse meat scare on January 30 in an inquiry into the handling of the incident.

Representatives from the Food Standards Agency, Iceland, Tesco, and government ministers including David Heath MP, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food were called to give evidence to the committee.

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Ms McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton, said the committee intended to report its findings to the House very soon and may decide to take more evidence. She said: “We cannot understand why the FSA UK did not start testing sooner. They were told in November that the Irish FSA were testing and took no action at that time.

“We are shocked that the FSA says the original contamination of Tescos burgers has gone on for as long as a year.”

She said the prolonged scare was impacting unfairly on farmers in North Yorkshire and the UK and urged people to buy from their local butcher or farm shop.

She said: “I represent a large meat producing area. Farmers are alarmed at what this means for them. The public should know British beef is made to the highest welfare and safe standards.”

She added: “The Government should ask the EU Commission for a temporary ban on processed and frozen meat at this time from France, Poland and Ireland until shown to be free of contaminations.

“That’s what France would ask for it we exported this to them.”