Summary of investigation on cloned animals

Posted by Josette Dunn on 13th August 2010

The UK Food Standards Agency last week traced animals born in the UK from eight embryos produced by a cloned cow in the US. Four of these embryos were male calves and four were female. All were Holstein animals, a breed mainly used for dairy production.Since the previous update published on 4 August, the Agency has received assurances from the local authorities that visited the farms, the dairy industry and the farmers involved that no milk from the remaining two dairy cows has entered the food chain. This is in addition to similar assurances received in relation to the other dairy cow, Dundee Paradise.

The fourth female calf died at less than a month old. No meat or products from this young animal entered the food chain and its carcass was disposed of in accordance with the law.

As part of this investigation, the Agency has established that five of the eight animals are known to have had offspring. All of this next generation is too young to be milked or to be used for breeding purposes. However, one animal, a male calf of less than a month old, was slaughtered on 16 June 2010 and meat from this animal entered the food chain. The meat was sold in a butcher’s shop in London and will have been eaten.

In summary, as part of this investigation, the Agency has established that, in total, meat from three animals has entered the food chain without authorisation under the Novel Food Regulations.

The Agency can confirm meat from the first animal, Dundee Paratrooper, slaughtered in 2009, was sold to consumers via four butchers’ premises in Scotland and a single butcher’s shop in north east England. Meat from the second animal, Parable, slaughtered on 5 May 2010 was sent to Belgium. The Agency has informed its equivalent in Belgium of this.

While there is no evidence that consuming products from healthy clones, or their offspring, poses a food safety risk, meat and products from clones and their offspring are considered novel foods and would therefore need to be authorised before being placed on the market.