British farmers accused France of hypocrisy this week over its ban on British beef, after a European Union report criticised domestic French measures to control mad cow disease.
The report, by the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office, said France had failed to fully comply with controls aimed at wiping out the disease which is believed to cause the human brain-wasting disorder, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).
The report called on France to tighten its mad-cow controls in slaughterhouses and rendering plants after officials found strict EU rules on feed and the disposal of the most risky materials were not being fully observed.
Britain's National Farmers' Union (NFU), which is campaigning for France to lift its ban on British beef, said the report highlighted the ineffectiveness of France's own measures to combat bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
"The French government has used the pretext of public protection as the basis for its illegal ban on our beef since it was imposed in August 1999," NFU president Ben Gill said in a statement.
"Yet, as this report shows, they need to get their own house in order. Their ban is merely a cynical attempt to unjustifiably prevent British farmers from re-establishing their important meat markets in that country," he added.
The NFU is pursuing its own action in French courts against the French government's ban on British beef in place since the summer of 1999 when the worldwide export ban on British beef was eased by the European Union.
France maintains it cannot be sure British beef is entirely free of BSE because of inadequate information from Britain on testing cattle aged over 30 months for the disease.
The report, one of a series that the Commission has produced on each EU member state, also called for operations of a feed plant in Lorient, Brittany, to be suspended because it was not officially approved.
An addendum to the Commission's report lists a number of areas where France says it has improved its procedures since the inspections by EU officials.
More than 100 people - most in Britain, but also some in France and Ireland - have died or are believed to be dying from vCJD.