European Union inspectors issued a "satisfactory" progress report on the containment of mad cow disease in Britain, raising prospects that the ban on British beef exports may soon be lifted.
The veterinary report which was published Wednesday "concludes that satisfactory progress was noted in most areas." Exports are now limited to select amounts of veal only since the mad cow disease, or BSE, was found only in older animals, the AP says.
The executive European Commission welcomed the findings. "This favorable report means that the two conditions set by the Commission on lifting the embargo on British beef have now been met," said spokesman Philip Tod.
EU member states must now decide whether the ban can be fully lifted. "It's difficult to be more precise on a timescale," Tod said. In Britain, hopes have been expressed exports can be resumed next spring.
The ban was imposed in 1996 when it became clear there was a link between mad cow disease in cattle and a human deadly equivalent. The incidence of BSE in Britain has slumped from 37,280 cases in 1992 to 342 last year.