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EU to consider lifting import ban on US poultry

An European Commissioner said on Tuesday that the commission would propose lifting an 11-year import ban on US poultry.

EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told a press conference that a new scientific report “does not provide a basis” for continuing the ban, which was imposed in 1997 out of health concern that the US washes chickens in a chlorine solution kill off bacteria. He said this after meeting a high-level US delegation led by Daniel Price, international economic affairs assistant to US President George W. Bush.

“The European Commission will, before the EU-US summit in June, propose changes to EU regulations that will allow the importation of poultry meat processed using pathogen reduction treatments,” a US-EU joint statement said. The import ban costs US poultry producers an estimated $180 million a year in lost sales. The commission, the executive arm of the EU, said it would recommend member states consider the use of such treatments in the production of poultry meat for consumption in the EU.

Last month a European Food Safety Authority assessment found that the four antimicrobial substances used in the US for cleaning poultry carcasses -- chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate and peroxyacids -- imposed no safety concern within the proposed conditions of use. Reports said that the draft version of the proposal will be presented at the end of May. (