Novel foods

Food obtained from cloned animals

The Novel Foods Regulation covers any food from cloned animals - such as meat, eggs or milk.

What is cloning?

Cloning happens when an organism - the clone - is exact genetic copy of another organism - the donor.

Clones occur naturally and cloning is common in horticulture. This is where plants grown from a cutting or a graft are genetic copies of the original plants. Some microorganisms - such as amoebas - and insects - such as greenfly - also clone themselves.

Clones of cattle and other farm animals can be produced using a technique known as 'somatic cell nuclear transfer' (SCNT). SCNT doesn't occur naturally.

How is cloning regulated?

At present, the EU isn’t considering for commercial production of food. If it is in the future, any products obtained from cloned animals would be  novel foods. These products could not be marketed legally until they had undergone a safety assessment and EU member states approve them.

In the UK, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) carries out safety assessments. 

FSA research

The FSA has researched public attitudes towards:

  • cloning
  • the possibility that the offspring of cloned animals could enter the food chain

The survey found that areas of consumer concern included:

  • food safety
  • animal welfare issues
  • a lack of trust in the organisations with an interest in cloning

The report concluded that the public would only accept the idea of buying and eating food from clones and their offspring if these concerns had been addressed.