More than 80 private travel testing companies will be issued a two-strike warning after failing to maintain suitable standards for consumers.

The businesses could be removed from the official list after issuing misleading prices, the health and social care secretary announced.

Following a rapid review of the pricing and service standards of day two and day eight testing providers listed on the government website, 82 providers have been identified as displaying lower prices there than are available on individual websites at the point of checkout.

The government website will be updated to reflect the true cost of the tests and companies will be warned this week that they will be removed if they advertise misleading prices again.

The decision impacts on around a fifth of all providers.

A total of 57 companies will be removed from the list today as they no longer exist or do not provide day two and day eight testing.

As part of the ongoing review, regular spot checks will be introduced from this week to make sure companies are complying with the rules to ensure prices displayed are accurate, providers are legitimate and companies have not changed their name to get back on the list.

Health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “It is absolutely unacceptable for any private testing company to be taking advantage of holidaymakers and this action clamps down on this cowboy behaviour.

“Some 57 firms will be removed from the government list and a further 82 will be given a two-strike warning – if they advertise misleading prices ever again, they’re off.

“We are also introducing regular spot checks this week to make sure all private providers follow the rules and meet our high standards of transparency.”

The findings of the review will be shared with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to support their own review of the market and align recommendations and actions.

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “It is inexcusable that it has taken the government nearly half a year to properly audit its own list of private test providers to remove firms that don’t exist and others advertising misleading prices.

“The number of firms being taken off or facing a warning shows the huge difficulty travellers face in choosing a trustworthy, reliable test provider.

“Many will have faced delays and missing tests because they used cowboy firms listed by the government.

“While it is frustrating that it has taken so long for the government to clamp down on rogue providers, with many summer holidays already ruined, it is vital that it now takes immediate action to remove any companies not following the rules.”