THE leader of the Welsh Conservatives has criticised the decision to close Wales' only publicly-run food testing laboratory due to budget cuts.

Vale-based farmer Andrew RT Davies AM has warned about the affects on the food industry and its customers.

“Councils are having to review all of their spending commitments due to Welsh Government budget cuts, but there are serious issues with a service like this being delivered outside of the public sector," he said.

The South Wales Central AM has also urged Cardiff Council to reconsider the decision, which will lead to nine local authorities in total contracting the service through the private sector.

“In the event of a similar crisis to the horse meat scandal, it is difficult to see how local authorities will be able to respond in a co-ordinated fashion and that could undermine confidence in the meat sector," he said.

“We all witnessed the knock-on effect last time, in terms of the alarm and distress amongst consumers, but I fear that a similar crisis in confidence could become a serious public health issue under the new arrangements.”