Laboratory-created 'chicken' from Israeli start-up SuperMeat meets rabbis' ethical requirements
09, Sep 2023
The Orthodox Kosher Union has certified a strain of laboratory-grown meat as kosher for the first time, marking a significant step forward towards the acceptance of new dietary patterns within Jewish ethics. Specifically, the customs clearance took place in relation to the poultry products of the Israeli startup SuperMeat. Until very recently, synthetic meat had raised strong doubts among rabbis (read EFA News). The news comes just over a month after an Israeli company requested the marketing in Switzerland of protein foods created in a laboratory (read EFA News).
Specifically, products made from SuperMeat's chicken cell line have been recognized as Mehadrin kosher meat, meeting the most rigorous qualifications for kosher supervision. “It's a big deal because just in terms of the technology itself, not just in poultry but in meat, it could have real meaning for the future,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, chief executive of the Kosher division of the Orthodox Union. The certification came after SuperMeat hosted two rabbinical delegations and kosher authorities held a series of discussions on halacha, or Jewish law, and the science involved in the company's technology.
Certifying lab-grown meat is problematic, as the meat-growing process often begins with stem cells from live animals, and kosher law prohibits the consumption of any part of a live animal, Genack told the Times of Israel.
The Orthodox Kosher Union, based in New York, says meat products must come from slaughtered animals and nothing can be derived from a living creature.
SuperMeat's lab-grown poultry circumvents this requirement by taking stem cells from eggs, in a process that could open the door to greater kosher certification of poultry products. “I hope it's a gateway to trying to find a consensus between the different oversight agencies on what the standards should be” for lab-grown meat, Genack said. “We hope this sets the trend. One of our goals that we would like to achieve is to have something that is universally accepted."
“Aligning our technology with kosher dietary laws has immense significance for us. This step represents our commitment to inclusiveness and respect for diverse dietary needs, making our cultured chicken meat accessible to audiences around the world,” Ido Savir, CEO of SuperMeat, said in a statement.