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Beef from offspring of clone eaten

Meat from the offspring of a cloned cow entered the food chain last year and was eaten, the Food Standards Agency has revealed.

And experts have admitted they do not know how many embryos from cloned animals have been imported into Britain.

FSA chief executive Tim Smith stressed that there were no health risks associated with eating meat or drinking milk from the descendants of cloned cows.

Two bulls born in the UK from embryos harvested from a cloned cow have been slaughtered, one of which "will have been eaten" while the other was stopped from entering the food chain.

The revelation came amid an FSA probe into whether any matter from cows born of a clone have been used in food production.

Under European law, foodstuffs, including milk, produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and gain authorisation before they are marketed. But the FSA said it had neither made any authorisations nor been asked to do so.

An investigation was launched in the wake of claims that a British farmer had admitted using milk in his daily production without labelling it as from the offspring of a cloned cow.The FSA said on Tuesday that it had traced a single animal, Dundee Paradise, believed to be part of a dairy herd, but could not confirm that its milk had entered the food chain.

Mr Smith told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "There's a live investigation going on at the moment and, whilst we have got a first-class cattle tracing scheme, what we don't know is precisely how many embryos have been imported into the country."

He said such a situation was "inevitable", adding: "It's a bit like the police being there and us expecting no crime. However good the system is, it relies on the honesty of those people participating.

"It's impossible for us to stand by each animal and watch it through each phase of its life cycle."

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