IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Would you serve cloned steak at your cookout?

That could be choice facing many consumers if, as expected, the FDA approves food from cloned animals. Phil Lempert looks at the issue.

These midsummer days are a big time for milk and meat treats. Steaks on the barbecue and cooling milk shakes to drink.

But would you be so happy consuming these all-American staples if they were derived from cloned animal?

That’s the decision millions of consumers look likely to have to make in the not-too-distant future if, as widely expected, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of food products made from cloned animals.

The Financial Times, a respected London-based business paper, and United Press International reported last week that the FDA is close to concluding a four-year study of the issue. The Financial Times reported that John Matheson, a senior scientist at the FDA, told attendees of a recent biotechnology conference last week that the FDA's four-year evaluation could be released any day. And beyond that, the buzz in food circles is that the agency’s decision would be a “yes.”

The FDA, however, quickly issued what used to be called a non-denial denial.

"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been reviewing an ongoing study on the safety of animal clones and their offspring in the human food supply, but it is premature to discuss our findings or to make any final determinations due to the complexity of the issue," said Dr. Norris Alderson, FDA Associate Commissioner for Science.

If the reports of the report’s release prove to be true — and that it gives the go-ahead to using products from cloned animals — there no doubt will be a rush of manufacturers looking to exploit the decision that cloned animals are as safe to eat as conventionally bred animals. To date, much of the research into the subject have come from two U.S. based companies, ViaGen and Cyagra, both of which have already produced several hundred cloned pigs and cattle.

Some scientists say that these products could be on store shelves as early as next year. The question is, of course, will anyone buy them?

The answer is definitely up in the air. As much as the government and these companies might want to talk about the science, it’s not about that. For example, irradiated beef hasn’t sold well even though the science has proven it to be safe and a major step forward in terms of food safety. And the biggest food trend at present is all about going more towards nature — not further away from it.

If I were investing in the food industry, I would place my bet on companies that deal in organic foods and their “natural” allies. After all, one of the likely effects of food and beverages based on cloned animals is to increase the sales and consumption of such food.

Phil Lempert is food editor of the “Today” show. He welcomes questions and comments, which can be sent to