Food processing manufacturers in Eastern Europe will have to invest substantially in food safety equipment if they are to obtain the food hygiene standards implemented by the European Uniion, according to a report in the Financial Times.
EU officials in Brussels have stated that the further integration of Eastern and Western Europe would eventually lead to higher overall standards of food hygiene within the food industry, but also added that the process was taking longer than planned for.
They said Poland was making "plodding progress" towards improving standards in its abattoirs and dairies, in spite of repeated demands from the EU to speed up the work.
Slovenia and Hungary have already brought their food processing plants to EU standards but elsewhere progress has not been so good.
According to the EU officials, of the 10 countries applying to join the EU in 2004, Poland - the country with the most extensive agricultural sector - is causing the greatest concern.
Some food plants have been identified for closure because they are considered unlikely to ever meet EU standards, while others will be given a transitional period in which to improve.
One Commission official acknowledged the political pressure to allow all ten countries into the EU but said Poland was not taking its obligations sufficiently seriously.
If Poland was admitted in 2004, some of its food plants would not be immediately licensed to sell produce into the EU's single market, he added.
Food safety has become one of the hottest political issues in Europe, following scandals such as BSE and the discovery of traces of dioxins in Belgian meats. France, hit by a scandal over contaminated blood, is especially sensitive to all public health issues.