Cloned meat eaten in UK

By staff

The meat of the offspring of a cloned cow was eaten in the UK last year, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has warned.

As part of a wider inquiry, it found two bulls born in the UK from the embryo of a cloned US cow, one of which had entered the food chain.

The first cow was slaughtered in July last year and eaten. The second was slaughtered last month but the meat was prevented from entering the food chain.

American scientists and biotechnology companies have been striving to increase the yield of milk and meat in cattle for several years, although stringent safety evaluation tests are being imposed before the products can be brought to Europe.

US government officials from the Food and Drugs Administration insist the meat of cloned cows is perfectly safe, and several UK experts agree, but the political environment in Europe is not particularly receptive to a change, and some observers expect cloned meat to be banned.

FSA chief Tim Smith said he was unconcerned by any health implications of the cloned meat entering the food chain in Britain.

He insisted the fact that some meat had been eaten did not mean the regulatory system had broken down.

“It’s a bit like the police being there and being an efficient service and us expecting no crime,” he told the Today programme.

“It’s inevitable that however good the system is, it ultimately relies on the honesty of the people who are participating in the chain.

“So it means that every farmer, every breeder, every processor has to come clean and tell us what it is they’re actually doing. It’s impossible for us to stand by each animal and watch what happens to it throughout its life cycle.”