Consumer Affairs Commissioner Emma Bonino is awaiting Portugal’s formal reaction to a highly critical EU veterinary inspectors’ report on the country’s beef industry, and will decide whether to impose an export embargo at the end of this month.EU veterinary chiefs last week examined the study, which highlighted breaches of a Union ban on feeding cattle with potentially contaminated animal offals, and called on Bonino to “take the appropriate measures”.But Commission officials have reacted favourably to assurances from Lisbon that it will cooperate fully in eliminating the breaches of EU law identified in the inspectors’ report. “We do not expect that there will be a ban,” said one Portuguese diplomat. “It is true that there has been an increase in the number of cases of BSE, but in our view the disease has peaked. We will be working closely with the Commission to rectify the problem.”As a first step, Agriculture Minister Santos Capoulas will introduce a new set of controls on livestock feeding practices next week.Meanwhile, national veterinary chiefs are still discussing a possible relaxation of the Commission’s 1996 ban on British beef exports.The vets are expected to vote on the plan early next month. If they vote in favour by a qualified majority, the restrictions on exports of beef from animals born after August 1996, when it became a criminal offence in the UK to feed cattle with potentially contaminated offal, would be relaxed immediately. If they reject the proposal, it will then be referred to EU farm ministers for a final decision.