An urgent review should be made of the vulnerability of the European food chain to attack by bio-terrorists, according to EU Consumer Commissioner David Byrne. The Commissioner told the EU Council of Farm Ministers on Tuesday that while it was unnecessary to be alarmist, governments should be checking ways in which food supplies can be guarded. Byrne said: "Food production and distribution systems have shown their potential vulnerability to attack. We cannot ignore these warning signs. We cannot escape the reality that our systems of food and agricultural production could be vulnerable to bio-terrorism." Byrne said the anthrax attacks in the United States demonstrated that biological attack is a real threat. He also pointed out that the recent experience in the UK and the on the continent of foot-and-mouth disease and swine fever demonstrated the possible damage from the introduction of such livestock viruses. The European Commission was due to hold talks with national experts, as The Grocer went to press, to assess the strength of defences, if any. Byrne was concerned that the right drugs and vaccines were available to deal with the potentially most dangerous threats. He said it was necessary "to know what quantities exist, where they are stored and how quickly they could be made available." After a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, he said he was "deeply struck at how much more underdeveloped we were. "The objective must be to exploit the existing expertise which already exists in member states to ensure there is a Community-wide umbrella against threats." EU governments have already agreed to pool their expertise to deal with the threat from biological and chemical weapons. {{NEWS }}