European Commission industry officials are "working on a solution" to head off a threat to the expected lifting of a ban on US poultry imports into the EU, just-food has been told.

Ton van Lierop, the Commission's industry spokesman, said officials are crafting a response to a forthcoming report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the risks of anti-microbial agents to the environment.

In 2005, EFSA said the agents did not affect human health but Commission health officials have continued supporting the embargo. The ban was imposed in 1997 because of concerns over the anti-microbial agents used by US producers.

With EFSA now expected to raise concerns about the environmental effects of anti-microbials in poultry, resistance to lifting the ban is also expected from Commission environment officials.

The Transatlantic Economic Council, a body set up to facilitate trade and investment between the EU and US, wants the ban removed - partly as a token of improved trade relations - and such a move had been expected by the summer.