US `insulted' by food snipe

A TRANSATLANTIC dispute over hormone-treated beef has escalated with the United States saying that comments by the French that it has the "worst food in the world" were "intemperate and insulting".

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said the "inflammatory nature" of the remarks about US food by his French counterpart would worsen the dispute over beef hormones, bananas and bio-technology.

Earlier, the French Agriculture Minister ,Jean Glavany, attacked an American decision to impose 100 per cent tariffs on $116.8m (pounds 73m) of European Union goods, including French pate, chocolate and cheese.

The action is intended to punish the leading members of the EU for not dropping a ban on beef produced from cattle treated with hormones, a common US practice. "[The US] is the country that has the worst food in the world," Mr Glavany said, when asked by a reporter in Par is why Americans would eat hormone-treated beef if it was dangerous. "One cannot say that the American food model is balanced and beyond reproach."

Mr Glickman said Mr Glavany had gone "too far". "[His remarks] are not supported by the facts," he said.