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Summary Of Investigation On Cloned Animals

12 August 2010

UK - The Food Standards Agency (FSA) 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.

Release of information

The Agency has considered whether and, if so, to what extent it should reveal the identities of individuals and businesses involved in the recent investigation conducted by the Agency into the alleged sale of meat and milk from offspring of cloned animals.

The FSA is an organisation whose essential purpose is to protect the interests of consumers in relation to food and food safety. It is committed to openness as a way of gaining and maintaining consumers’ confidence. Although the Agency is satisfied that there has been no risk to human health as a result of the circumstances revealed through its investigation, it would normally wish to reveal the details of those individuals and businesses who have been involved in that investigation, recognising that these details may be of interest to some consumers.

However, in this case there are a number of other relevant factors:

  • some of those involved in the investigation were not aware, and could not reasonably be expected to have been aware, that the animals in question were the offspring of clones
  • it can be argued that a case such as this, where there has been no evidence of risk to human health, differs from other investigations conducted by the Agency
  • in this case, some have given information to the Agency with the expectation that their details will remain confidential and the Agency must consider whether, in future, third parties will be less likely to co-operate with investigations if such understandings are not adhered to

In light of the above, the Agency has decided to contact all those whose identity might be revealed following the recent investigation to tell them that, consistent with its usual practice and values, the Agency is minded to disclose their identities. It will invite comments on that proposal and decide, in the light of comments received, whether, and if so to what extent, to disclose this information.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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