LONDON – LONDON (AP) — Meat from the offspring of a cloned cow in the United States entered the British food chain without official authorization, the UK's Food Standards Agency said Tuesday.
The agency carried out its investigation after media reports said milk from a cow produced from a cloned parent was sold in Britain. Products from cloned animals and their offspring are considered "novel foods" in Britain and cannot be marketed unless authorized by the FSA, a government department.
The agency said it identified two bulls born in the U.K. from embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the U.S.
One of the bulls, known as Dundee Paratrooper, was slaughtered in July 2009, and its meat entered the food chain and "will have been eaten," the agency said.
The other bull, called Dundee Perfect, was slaughtered on July 27, but officials stopped its meat from entering the food chain, the FSA said. The meat is still held in refrigerators at a British farm and did not reach consumers.
A third cow — also an offspring of the same cloned U.S. cow — is believed to be part of a dairy herd. The agency said it was still investigating whether milk from the cow, known as Dundee Paradise, was sold.
A New York Times report last week quoted an unidentified British dairy farmer as saying he was using milk from a cow bred from a clone as part of his daily production, triggering a media frenzy and the FSA probe.
British consumers are wary of tainted beef and dairy products because of a mad cow disease epidemic in the 1990s. The FSA was careful to stress this week that products from cloned animals and their offspring pose no known food safety concerns. But the agency said it is investigating the cloned milk and meat because the products did not get proper authorization.
Farmers in Britain can legally buy embryos from cloned animals overseas, but they need to apply for authorization at a European level before they can sell food products from clones.