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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UK Takes Germany's Beef Delay to EU

LONDON -- The British government said Wednesday that it has complained to the European Commission about Germany's delay in permitting imports of British beef despite the end of a ban imposed three years ago.

"If Germany is going to unduly delay lifting the ban, then there is no doubt that the commission has the power to take legal action against Germany and they have indicated they will do so," Deputy Agriculture Minister Elliot Morley said in a British Broadcasting Corporation radio interview.

The commission, which enforces European Union regulations, this week lifted the global ban on British beef exports imposed after an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as "mad cow" disease.

Medical researchers linked the cattle disease to Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.

Britain still faces huge difficulties exporting beef again, both because of continuing suspicions in continental Europe about its safety and the hefty costs of meeting stringent new safety regulations.

France has also said there will be a delay in allowing British beef back. Government officials maintain they have to modify legislation and scrutinize the new safety measures.

German Health Minister Andrea Fischer defended the delay as necessary to overcome distrust of British beef. Germany says it also is ensuring that Britain is imposing new safety regulations.

"At the moment, I think the German market is quite difficult for British beef because people maybe would not want to buy it," Fischer said on the BBC.

Tim Bennett, deputy president of the British National Farmers' Union, said every EU country has had plenty of time to check up on the safety regulations and implement the lifting of the ban.

"Quite frankly, we are angry and exasperated by this delay," he said.

Only one British slaughterhouse - at St. Merryn, Cornwall, southwest England - is approved to handle exports.

The new rules require cattle to be killed in slaughterhouses dedicated solely to exports, supervised by teams of inspectors. The rules also require strict tracing of the animals' mothers.