Food Safety

Unlabeled cloned meat enters UK food chain

The embryos were harvested from a cow in the US.

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been updating its investigation into reports that products from the offspring of cloned animals have entered the food chain. The agency traced all of the affected calves born in the UK from eight embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the US. Four of these embryos produced male calves and four others produced female calves. All were Holsteins.

The FSA confirms meat from a bull, Parable, entered the food chain. Parable was born in May 2007 and slaughtered May 5, 2010. FSA also confirms meat from another of the bulls, Dundee Paratrooper, entered the food chain in 2009. The agency believes meat from both of these animals was consumed.

A third bull, Dundee Perfect, was slaughtered on July 27, 2010, but its meat was prevented from entering the food chain, says FSA. The fourth male calf died at about one month, and the carcass was disposed of according to British regulations.

Of the four female cows, Dundee Paradise is alive on a UK dairy farm, and FSA reports no milk has entered UK’s milk supply. The agency reports two other cows are most probably being kept as part of dairy herds, but can’t confirm whether milk has entered the food supply. Local officials are visiting the farms where the cows are kept. The fourth female calf died at less than a month old, and was also properly disposed of.

FSA has been working to trace these animals’ offspring, which the agency believes are too young to be milked or used for breeding purposes. The agency has reminded farmers with these animals that they will need authorization under the Novel Food Regulations if they are to use any products from them.

Meat and products from clones and their offspring are considered novel foods. (A novel food is a food or ingredient without a significant history of consumption within the European Union before May 15, 1997.) While there is no evidence that consuming products from healthy clones-or their offspring-poses a food safety risk, novel foods need to be authorized before being placed on the market, according to FSA.

In the US, according to a January 5, 2008 statement made by Bruce Knight, USDA under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs on FDA risk assessment on animal clones, “USDA fully supports and agrees with FDA’s final assessment that meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones pose no safety concerns, and these products are no different than food from traditionally bred animals.”

As of the statement date, Knight said, “We understand there are currently only about 600 animal clones in the US, and most of them are breeding animals, so few clones will ever arrive in the marketplace. Further, USDA has encouraged technology providers to maintain their voluntary moratorium on sending milk and meat from animal clones into the food supply during this transition time.”

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