updated 3/21/2007 7:54:25 PM ET 2007-03-21T23:54:25

Federal health officials used a flawed analysis when they gave preliminary approval to food from cloned animals, a consumer group charged Wednesday.

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In its report, the Center for Food Safety said the conclusions the Food and Drug Administration drew late last year were based on “scant data from few peer-reviewed studies” and failed to consider possible side effects of cloning.

“There isn’t the science to show that these foods are safe,” said Charles Margulis, a spokesman for the Washington-based center and author of the report. “I think the agency was heavily influenced by the biotechnology industry.”

The FDA declined to comment, but the center’s claims were vehemently rejected by supporters of the agency’s review.

“There’s not a single shred of data to suggest that food derived from clones or their offspring is in any way unsafe,” said Val Giddings, a scientist who consults with biotechnology companies.

The FDA, he said, based its conclusion on an exhaustive amount of peer-reviewed data. “All of what FDA has done here has been completely transparent,” Giddings said.

Last December, the FDA deemed meat and milk from cloned animals or their offspring as safe. Final approval could come by year’s end.

The federal scientists said they found virtually no difference between food from clones and food from conventional livestock. The agency also said it did not think special labels for cloned food would be necessary.

The center, however, said the FDA could not find studies on milk or meat from clones and whether they’re safe. Instead, the group said, the agency relied on studies done on cloned animals and whether they appeared healthy.

Last month, the nation’s biggest milk company — Dean Foods Co. of Dallas — said it would not sell milk from cloned cows. The company cited surveys suggesting Americans don’t have an appetite for dairy products from clones.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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