Four butchers sold the meat from offspring of cloned cow

FOUR butchers shops in Scotland have sold meat that came from the offspring of a cloned cow to customers, it was confirmed yesterday.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said meat from three animals produced from the original cloned cow in the US has now entered the food chain without authorisation under regulations governing the sale of "novel" meats - foods produced by technologies not previously used for food

However, it stressed there was no evidence of a safety risk.

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The FSA traced animals born in the UK from eight embryos harvested from the clone - four were male and four female, all of the Holstein breed.

Newmeadow Farm, near Nairn, run by father and son Calum and Steven Innes, is already under investigation after a bull, called Dundee Paratrooper, was slaughtered in 2009 and its meat sold.

The FSA confirmed yesterday that as well as the four shops in Scotland - which were not identified - a butchers in north east England also sold its meat.

A second bull - Dundee Perfect - from the same farm was to be sold for meat as well until the FSA stepped in last month.

But a third bull - called Parable - which was slaughtered on 5 May this year was sent to Belgium for sale. 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.

One of these animals, a male calf less than a month old - effectively the grandchild of the original cloned cow - has also been sold through a butchers in London and will have been eaten.

An FSA spokeswoman said: "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."

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The FSA considered releasing details of the shops involved in the interests of openness and to maintain consumer confidence but said it decided against identifying them at this stage as some were not aware that the animals were the offspring of clones.

The agency said some have given information with the expectation that their details will remain confidential: "The agency must consider whether, in future, third parties will be less likely to co-operate 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."

Last week the FSA said Calum and Steven Innes should have complied with regulations governing the sale of the "novel" meat. They could face prosecution and a fine of up to 5,000.