Food prices in the European Union rose 7.1% in April, double the rate of inflation, according to Eurostat.

EU agriculture minister Mariann Fischer said the worst of the recent rise might have passed as prices for food such as wheat and butter had fallen since March, according to the Independent.

The figure comes as more than 40 heads of state attend an emergency United Nations food summit in Rome later today to discuss soaring food prices. The meeting has already been clouded by the attendance of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile, the EU ban on the use of animal remains to feed pigs and chickens should be lifted so that grain can be diverted to millions of starving people, Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, has told The Times.