Europe is preparing to fire the next salvo in an escalating trade dispute with the United States, a conflict that began with a European ban on U.S. hormone-treated beef.

European Community officials are scheduled to meet Thursday in Brussels to plan their response to a U.S. retaliatory move to slap 100 percent tariffs on $100 million worth of European food imports.Among the measures under consideration was a proposed ban on European imports of U.S. honey, shelled nuts, dried fruits and canned corn - worth about $140 million a year - officials said Tuesday.

"We do not exclude the possibility that a decision may be taken at (Thursday's) meeting," an EC executive commission spokesman said.

Officials said the European retaliation would be adapted to the specific measures taken by the Americans - and thus would be limited to about $100 million worth of imports of U.S. goods.

The American retaliatory tariffs, announced in response to the EC's Jan. 1 ban on hormone-treated meat, will double the wholesale cost in the United States of such goods as European beef, Danish hams, Italian canned tomatoes, French cheese, processed coffee, low-alcohol beverages, fruit juices and pet food.

The dispute could cause major disruption in the $150 billion in annual trade across the Atlantic.