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Knocking Down Barriers: EU, US Close to Trade

14 May 2008

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - A European Commisioner, talking from a press conference in Brussels, has said that the commisions contiuing ban on US poultry meat may well be lifted after reports reveal that it may be unjustified.

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 U.S. washes chickens in a chlorine solution kill off bacteria.

He said this after meeting a high-level U.S. 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 U.S. poultry producers an estimated 180 million dollars 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 U.S. 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.

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