An agency investigation found that two cloned bulls born in the UK have been slaughtered and meat from one of them entered the food chain in July last year. Meat from the second animal did not enter the food chain.
The investigation came after reports that products from the offspring of cloned animals had hit the market in the UK, which would have been illegal as these products would be considered ‘novel foods’ and would therefore need authorization to be sold. Novel food legislation covers food that has not been consumed to any significant degree in the EU before May 1997.
A spokesperson from the Representation of the European Commission to the UK told FoodNavigator.com that “no application was been made by any company in order to put foods from cloned animals on the market.”
The issue made headlines in the UK last week, after an unnamed farmer told the International Herald Tribune that he was using milk from a cow bred from a clone as part of his daily production.
FSA confirmed it was investigating the allegations, and yesterday issued findings from its initial examination.
As part of its research, the agency investigated farming organisations, the dairy industry, local authorities and breed associations.
It traced two bulls born in the UK from embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the US, and subsequently slaughtered in the country.
“The first, Dundee Paratrooper, was born in December 2006 and was slaughtered in July 2009. Meat from this animal entered the food chain and will have been eaten. The second, Dundee Perfect, was born in March 2007 and was slaughtered on 27 July 2010. Meat from this animal has been stopped from entering the food chain,” said the agency.
FSA added that it is continuing its efforts to trace the offspring of clones claimed to produce milk for the UK dairy industry.
“We have traced a single animal, Dundee Paradise, which is believed to be part of a dairy herd but at present we cannot confirm that milk from this animal has entered the food chain. As part of this investigation local authority officials are visiting the farm on which this herd is kept,” it said.
FSA re-iterated that there are no safety concerns surrounding the consumption of products from cloned animals, but stressed the importance of following national and European regulations for food approvals.
Both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have examined these products and concluded on their safety.
In 2008, EFSA issued an opinion stating that:
“No clear evidence has emerged to suggest any differences between food products from clones or their offspring, in terms of food safety, compared to products from conventionally bred animals. But we must acknowledge that the evidence base, while growing and showing consistent findings, is still small.”
In June this year, EFSA called for new data on the health and welfare on cloned farm animals as it prepares to provide the European Commission with an update of scientific developments related to cloning animals for food production purposes.
As part of its ongoing investigation, FSA is calling for relevant information to be sent to foodincidents’at’foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk.
The agency said it will provide updates when new information becomes available, and reminded food businesses that they face penalties of up to £5,000 for failing to comply with Novel Foods Regulations.