Livestock farmers claim EU dithering over lifting bone-in beef restrictions is costing them 10-15p/kg every animal they sell.

"The situation is increasingly frustrating and we simply shouldn't be in this situation," said Alistair Donaldson, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers executive manager. "The current 'ban' on bone-in beef between 24 and 30 months old is not based on scientific fact."

The losses come because carcases from animals aged over 24 months of age cannot be sold to independent butchers without going through an expensive SRM removal procedure at an approved site. This restriction has only been in place since May 2006, when the industry was forced to adopt the EU-wide policy in order to restart exports.

European Food Safety Authority experts postponed a decision several times and are now expected to raise the matter at their next meeting, which takes place on 18-19 April.