The World Trade Organisation has ruled against the United States and Canada in a row with the European Union over an EU ban on beef treated with growth hormones, a European official told AFP on Friday.
The WTO has found that penalities imposed by the US and Canada on some EU products in retaliation for the EU ban are illegal, said the official, who asked not to be named.
"The sanctions imposed by the United States and Canada are in contravention of WTO rules," the official said.
"The European Union wants the United States and Canada to abolish the sanctions."
The WTO is to make its decision public on Monday.
The Geneva-based trade body ruled in 1999 that Washington and Ottawa could slap higher tariffs on a list of EU products after it condemned the European Union for banning the use of certain growth-promoting hormones -- used by the US and Canada -- without a scientific assessment of the risk.
The EU had contested these sanctions, saying that they were no longer justified because it had found a scientific basis for banning hormone-treated beef and had updated its law in 2003.
The penalties, in the form of customs tariffs, amount to 116.8 million dollars (74 million euros) for the United States and 11.3 million dollars for Canada.
They target a host of products including French Dijon mustard and Roquefort cheese.
The EU says its ban is based on a study that found consumption of a particular type of hormone was harmful to human health.
The evidence on five other hormones, such as testosterone, was insufficient, but warranted a provisional ban on marketing meat containing those substances because of the uncertainty, according to the EU.
The US and Canada had rejected or raised doubts about the validity of the proof presented by Brussels to back up its ban.