The European Ombudsman has slammed the European Commission for increasing the risk of foot and mouth disease by delaying controls on Brazil­ian beef imports in 2008.

The EC has come under fire for continuing to allow Brazilian beef certified prior to 31 January 2008 into the EU until 15 March that year.

In a complaint to the ombudsman, Fairness For Farmers In Europe argued that the EC should have imposed a complete ban on imports on 17 January 2008 instead of simply issuing restrictions.

In an official opinion, published last week, ombudsman P Nikiforos Diamandouros sided with the Commission that a total ban on beef imports was unnecessary at the time.

However, he concluded that the EC had failed to justify why it had permitted beef imports into the EU from 10,000 unapproved farms between February and March 2008.