Latest developments on Halal and Kosher cell-based meat rulings
Good Meat has announced that a group of leading Islamic scholars has advised the company that cell-based meat, which is made without raising and slaughtering animals, can be halal if production meets certain criteria.
Answering this theological question is a major step forward for international acceptance of cell-based meat since halal consumers represent about 25% of the world's population.
This landmark Shariah opinion from a trio of well-respected scholars in Saudi Arabia comes as cell-based meat begins to enter commerce in the US. The Shariah scholars reviewed documentation prepared by Good Meat that described how cell-based chicken, the company’s first product, is made. The panel studied details about how the cells are sourced and selected, the ingredients fed to the cells to stimulate growth, how the cells are harvested and how finished products are manufactured.
GoodMeat also engaged the Halal Product Advisory, a division of Halal Product Development Company, a fully owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, to advise and assist the company with the official process for halal pre-certification in Saudi Arabia and globally.
The scholars concluded that cell-based meat can be halal under the following conditions:
The cell line is from an animal that is permissible to eat, such as a chicken or a cow
The animal the cell line is extracted from is slaughtered according to Islamic law
The nutrients fed to the cells are permissible to eat, and do not include any substances that are forbidden to be eaten such as spilled blood, alcohol or materials extracted from animals that have not been slaughtered properly or pigs
The cell-based meat is edible and that it does not harm human health, and this is confirmed by referring to specialists, such as a country’s food regulatory agency
Good Meat’s chicken cell line and production process that were approved by regulators in the US and Singapore in July do not yet meet the above criteria, however, with this clarity the company says it will work on a process to meet the halal guidelines moving forward.
Good Meat’s co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick said: "If cultivated meat is to help address our future food system needs, it has to be an option for the billions of people around the world who eat halal. This landmark ruling provides much needed clarity on how to ensure that is achieved. All companies should work to build a process to meet these guidelines."
The same week, OU Kosher, the Kosher certification division of the Orthodox Union (OU), and the world's largest and most widely recognised kosher certification agency, determined that cell-based meat company SuperMeat’s chicken cell line, meets Kosher meat Mehadrin standards.
Following this acknowledgement, the parties say they are embarking on a “thorough examination” of the entire supply chain and the cell-based meat production process. This is set to establish clear guidelines for other enterprises in the cell-based meat sector. This is a pivotal moment in the overlap of religious dietary standards and advanced food technology in the cell-based meat industry and indicates for the first time a wide consensus among Jewish religious factions.
The OU's recognition came after a series of halachic discussions and scientific reviews. These reviews focused on avian embryogenesis and stem cells, including the observation of the excision of embryonic stem cells from a fertilised chicken egg prior to the appearance of blood spots.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher and Rabbi of Congregation Shomrei Emunah, said: “The kosher certification for cultivated meat poses a unique halachic challenge, requiring innovative guidelines that mirror the scientific and technological advancements integral to these novel products. This collaboration aims to bridge the gap between scientific understanding and halachic adjudication, setting unprecedented standards in the cultivated meat industry.”
Based on in-depth discussions and reviews, the OU has determined that SuperMeat's poultry cell line development process has broad acceptance as the basis for a kosher, Mehadrin, meat product – the most stringent level of kosher supervision.
Ido Savir, CEO of SuperMeat, commented: "Aligning our technology with kosher dietary laws holds immense significance for us. This step represents our commitment to inclusivity and respect for diverse dietary needs, making our cultivated chicken meat accessible to audiences around the world. This recognition of our process is a testament to our meticulous attention to detail and the high standards we uphold. We believe this historic initiative with the Orthodox Union not only broadens the options for kosher consumers worldwide but will also set clear guidelines for other companies in the cultivated meat industry."
With this decision, OU Kosher and SuperMeat say they will now work together on a project to bring high-quality, cell-based poultry products produced with the highest level of kashrut supervision to future customers. This joint effort will serve as a guide for other cell-based meat companies seeking Kosher certification, opening new avenues for the kosher food industry.