The US may sue the EU at the WTO over its continuing ban on imports of US “chlorinated chicken”, after EU vet experts voted overwhelmingly against a proposal to lift the ban.

This EU ban was put in place 10 years ago due to health concerns about antimicrobial agents used by American processors.

The Business Spectator has reported an EU official saying: “The idea that the Americans are going to take us to Geneva I think is very possible.”

Over recent months, the US government had been expressing growing annoyance with the ban and considers it a test case for the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), which it set up in 2007 with Brussels to smooth trade and business between the two giant economies.

Earlier this year, Guenter Verheugen of Germany, the EU’s commissioner for enterprise and industry, proposed lifting the ban by claiming: “The US takes the poultry issue as a test case as to whether we are seriously pro-American.”

However, the chances of the ban being lifted were dealt a severe blow after EU vet experts (the Standing Committee of Food Chain and Animal Health) voted overwhelmingly against the lifting of the ban.

The vets explained that they were not convinced by the Commission’s arguments that the four chemicals had been cleared by the European Food Safety Authority, that the carcasses would be rinsed with water after treatment thereby washing off any possible residue or that consumers would be fully informed by clear labelling.