Food products from cloned animals such as milk and meat were qualified safe to eat by the European Food Safety Authority, a move which could bring those controversial products closer to the market.

The EFSA assessment was released on its website on Friday.

It is very unlikely that any difference exists in terms of food safety between food products originating from clones and their progeny compared with those derived from conventionally bred animals, the EFSA's scientific opinion states.

The European Authority released the conclusion after submitting the food to nutrition, toxicity, allergic reactions and environmental effects studies. Apart from the report, it is not certain if later this year the European Union will approve the trade in cloned food products.

The European Commission requested this evaluation from the EFSA in February last year. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug administration released a similar assessment addressing the safety of food cloned products.

The international scientific consensus is clear,'' said Mark Walton president of leading U.S. animal-cloning company ViaGen in a statement released yesterday. Food from these animals and their offspring is as safe to eat as any other food.''

According to cloning companies in America, it will take several years for a significant number of cloning products to go on sale. The current total of cloned cattle, pigs, goats and sheep in America, is fewer than 600. Meanwhile, costs to create them are high. The approximate cost for each cloned animal is around $15,000 U.S. dollars and the animals are more prone to illness than naturally bred ones.

Some industry and consumer groups have opposed cloned food products over concern regarding their safety for human consumption and environment. A significant proportion of cloned animals have shown serious health problems that threaten their lives. According to EFSA's press release, as technology improves the number of unhealthy clones may decrease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to show a final report on cloned food very soon and it is reviewing more than 30 thousand comments that have emerged from this polemical issue.