The European Union is to reduce testing of imported Thai poultry for cancer-causing drugs, claiming that improved checks on chicken meat products have eased food safety fears. EU states will now have to check only 20 per cent of Thai chicken, compared to the 100 per cent testing rule that was introduced in March 2002.
This legislation was imposed after cancer-causing antibiotic residues called nitrofurans were found in food products imported from Thailand. Nitrofurans are banned from food with the EU.
"The action plan put in place by the Thai authorities to address the deficiencies and the results of the checks carried out by member states have shown a major improvement," said the European Commission in a prepared statement.
"The authorities of Thailand have guaranteed that all consignments of poultry meat are submitted to a systematic pre-shipment check to control the presence of nitrofurans and other residues since after 21 September 2002."
The easing of restrictions will apply to all poultry produce certified by Thailand for export after this date. The decision to relax controls will be published in the EU's official journal at the end of the week.
The decision follows a similar ruling on Thai shrimp imports, which also reduced testing to the 20 per cent level. Standard EU safety checks require Member States to test only 10 per cent of all imported produce for impurities.
Thailand is the world's second-largest exporter of chicken to the EU after Brazil.