FSA News Item, 17 January 2007
The issue of cloned animals and their offspring entering the UK food chain has recently been reported in the media. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is committed to protecting the public's health and consumer interests in relation to this matter and all food related issues.
Cloned animals fall under the EC Novel Foods Regulation. This means that any product from a cloned animal would be subject to a safety evaluation by all 27 Member States as a novel food before it could be legally marketed.
The Agency is currently in discussion with the European Commission about the legal requirements relating to offspring of cloned animals. The authorisation and labelling of novel foods is decided on a case-by-case basis and no applications have been received to date within the EU for products derived from cloned animals.
The FSA's view is that products from the offspring of cloned animals, like those from cloned animals themselves, should be considered as novel foods.
The Agency expressed this view at an EC discussion group meeting that took place in Brussels on 12 January 2007. The Agency's view was also shared by a significant number of other Member States.
However, the issue will need to be considered fully by the Commission before it is discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee and a decision made.
The Commission intends to put this issue forward for discussion as soon as possible and the FSA is pressing for this to happen as soon as possible, together with referral of this issue to the European Food Safety Authority for advice on consumer safety.
FSA officials are also in liaison with Defra about the import of embryos from cloned animals into the UK and the monitoring of cloned animals and their offspring.
About novel foods
A novel food is defined as a food or food ingredient which does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before May 1997.
All novel foods are subject to a pre-market safety assessment under the novel foods regulation (EC) 258/97. In the UK the independent Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes carries out all novel food assessments.