EFSA cloning report highlights labelling concerns

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Monday, February 25, 2008

The EFSA has published a report on a technical meeting to discuss its Draft Opinion on animal cloning.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducted this technical meeting with its Stakeholder Consultative Platform earlier this month.

A main area of discussion was public perception of cloning as a method of food production.

Although EFSA’s Draft Opinion had concluded that meat and dairy products from cloned animals are probably safe for human consumption, food manufacturers remain concerned about customer reaction, and are wary about developments in this area.

A presentation on consumer perceptions of cloned food that was highlighted during the meeting expressed concerns that imposing cloned products on the public without appropriate labelling denies consumer choice and runs counter to consumer protection legislation in Europe.

Even if cloned meat is shown to be equivalent to conventional meat, sections of the public would demand labelling.

It also questions how consumers would react to derivatives from cloned animals such as milk products.

The report suggests that EFSA and DG SANCO (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs) need to agree a consistent strategy for informing the public of the key steps in the evaluation and decision-making process.

Stakeholders at the meeting had particular questions regarding how the Scientific Committee was able to reach firm conclusions on risks when the evidence base was limited. It was stressed that the Opinion had to be substantiated with reference to scientific literature, to clarify how conclusions were reached. Some participants emphasised again the need for on-going research.

Another concern was traceability, related to possible future risk management measures. Should traceability be required in the future, there are challenges to developing any system to facilitate labelling of foods from cloned animals.