In the light of guarantees to be provided by the US and following their verification by an EU mission in January to the US, the situation will be reviewed by the Standing Veterinary Committee beginning of February. No import ban on hormone-free beef nor on any other meat and meat product will therefore be imposed before 15 February 2000 and accordingly the implementation of the decision taken to this end has been deferred.
The residue testing programme requires Member States and third countries to monitor live animals and animals products (Directive 96/23/EC) for substances having an anabolic effect, unauthorised substances as well as certain veterinary drugs and contaminants. A recent mission to the US by the European Food and Veterinary Inspection office concluded that the testing methods of the laboratories needed to be improved. The US has reassured the EU that every effort is underway to achieve this quickly.
David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protections welcomed the firm engagement of the US authorities to solve these issues. He expressed the hope that the next inspection by the European Food and Veterinary Office in January would confirm these commitments on testing made by the US.