The RSPCA warned Defra of the danger of 'cloned meat' entering the UK food chain as early as March 2008, The Grocer can exclusively ­reveal.

Last week, the Food Standards Agency confirmed meat from the ­offspring of a cloned ­animal had entered the UK food chain. It followed claims in the International Herald Tribune the previous week that milk from the offspring of cloned animals was being produced in the UK.

It has since transpired that the RSPCA wrote to Lord Rooker a Defra minister at the time on 20 March 2008, highlighting the inadequacies of the ­current regime for clone imports. The letter pointed out that records of embryos and semen imported into the UK did not include whether they had been cloned, or whether they were from cloned animals.

"Unless this information is recorded, it is our belief that it will not be possible to trace the existence of cloned animals, or their offspring within the UK," the RSPCA said in the letter.

"It will therefore not be possible to monitor their health and welfare, or to ensure that any products derived from them do not enter the food chain without prior approval and ­applicable labelling."

In response to the letter, the charity claims it was told by Defra that the ­system in place for tracing cloned animals or their ­offspring relied upon food producers applying via the novel foods process.

"It's fairly ironic that, two and a half years later, its premise that 'if nobody's told us, nothing's happening' is not correct," said David Bowles, director of communications for the RSPCA.

A Defra spokeswoman said it was working with the FSA to "learn the lessons of this incident, including whether we need to improve advice and support to farmers in a complex area of regulation".

As The Grocer went to press, the FSA confirmed that veal from the progeny of a clone offspring had also entered the food chain.