Belgian food safety authorities not concerned by clones

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety European union Food standards agency Uk

Meat from the offspring of a cloned cow, raised and slaughtered in the UK has been exported to Belgium, the UK’s Food Standards Agency has confirmed. But Belgian authorities say there is no food safety issue, so no rapid alert was required.

The UK’s FSA said yesterday that meat from one of three offspring of cloned cows (two 2nd generation and one 3rd generation) has been exported to Belgium. The bull was 2nd generation and aged two years. It was slaughtered in the UK in May this year.

The FSA subsequently issued a rapid alert using the EU food safety system to notify Belgian authorities on 9 August.

However Belgium’s federal food safety agency, AFSCA, is now asking the European Commission to wipe the UK notification from the system, as it says it should never have been posted – even just for information purposes.

Its request is based on the Commission’s response to a request for clarification. Yesterday the Commission told all EU member states that food from descendents of clones are conventional foods, and therefore no special measures apply.

The Commission’s statement could shed some clarity on whether or not meat and milk from offspring of clones should fall under novel foods regulations. Existing novel foods regulation is unclear, and the FSA has said novel foods approval should have been sought by the farmers that raised and sold the 2nd and 3rd generation animals for meat.

New novel foods rules are currently being worked out. MEPs have said cloning should not be bundled in under the revised regulation, but should have its own separate regulation. The Council, meanwhile, wants to put clones under novel foods for a trial period, with a view to possible separate legislation later.

Consumer issue

The news that UK consumers have eaten meat from 2nd generation clones has caused a media storm in the UK. Belgium, like the UK, has been buffeted by serious food safety scares in the past.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a scientific opinion stating that current evidence does not show a meat and milk from cloned animals or their offspring to pose health issues for humans. It did not assess ethical matters relating to cloning.

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