Significant delays are now expected to the introduction of a package of European Union (EU) food hygiene laws, with the European Parliament sticking to its guns over the need to allow public officials to inspect the slaughter of pigs and veal calves, a job the European Commission would allow abattoirs to undertake themselves.

The EU Council of Ministers is expected to oppose these changes and others voted for this week by MEPs. If it does, then some or maybe all of the proposed three regulations and one directive would be referred to a conciliation committee, which would be unlikely to finish its work before the June European elections, pushing approval of the legislation into the winter and maybe 2005.