LUXEMBOURG (AP) _ European Union farm ministers on Monday sought ways to protect animal feed after serving meat to cows and motor oil to other animals led to widespread food scandals.

The 15 farm ministers also assessed the fallout of Belgium's recent dioxin food crisis, which has led to bans on EU foodstuffs in many nations and has cost EU farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales.

``We have to avoid the collapse of an entire sector of the European farm economy,'' French farm minister Jean Glavany said. The EU's executive Commission said it was too early yet to calculate the impact of the dioxin scandal and how member states could be compensated for losses.

The Commission was expected to come up with proposals to improve safety controls by the end of the year.

``We need accountability on the food chain. We need to know what can go in and what must be excluded,'' said EU Commission spokesman Gerry Kiely.

Belgium has come under severe criticism since dioxin was discovered in much of the food chain earlier this year, potentially contaminating poultry, eggs, pork, beef and their byproducts. The government said the dioxin entered the food chain with the introduction of mechanical oil as an animal feed fattener.

The Belgian government said tests show the contamination was limited to isolated cases and declared 95 percent of its foodstuffs ready for sale. But many other EU nations are not sure the crisis was an isolated incident.

``We have to get to the bottom of this so it cannot happen again,'' Britain's agriculture minister Nick Brown said. ``It is not clear to me what happened.''

France proposed a ban on using meat and bone meal fed to cattle. The practice of feeding ground-up dead cattle to cattle was the reason the Mad Cow disease spread. Three years ago, a ban was imposed on the export of British beef because of the disease.

``There have to be safeguards on the production of meat and bone meal and animal feed in general,'' said Glavany, calling for a progressive ban on meat and bone meal.