European Union farm ministers have agreed stricter rules aimed at improving food safety, on testing for contamination of meat, milk and shellfish.
The legislation, approved this week at a meeting in Brussels, is part of a wider package obliging food producers to apply strict hygiene rules from the farm to the factory, reducing the risk of food scares.
"Sound effective hygiene rules are the bottom line to ensure safe food," said EU health and consumer protection commissioner David Byrne in a prepared statement.
The European Parliament has still to agree the legislation. Following this, the new rules will apply across the EU on 1 January 1 2006.
The legislation will open the door to more rigorous testing of meat products, with better co-ordination and co-operation between the farm and the slaughterhouse. However, meat producers using traditional techniques in remote regions of the Union will be able to apply for exemptions.
In addition, there will be greater monitoring of toxins in water where shellfish are harvested. Any contaminated milk produced on farms will have to be destroyed.