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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

Singapore’s Islamic council says cell-based meat can be halal

This weekend, the Fatwa Committee of the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) – the sole entity with legal authorisation to issue halal certificates in Singapore – announced that under certain conditions, cell-based meat consumption can be permissible as halal.

The announcement was made at MUIS’ Fatwa Conference after more than a year of deliberations by the council. At the conference, experts from the Good Food Institute (GFI) APAC provided technical presentations about the process of cultivating meat from animal cells.

MUIS representatives also made a fact-finding visit to a local cell-based meat production facility, with scholars from the Fatwa Lab Project studying the subject from all angles of the Islamic perspective.

In presenting the results of the study at the conference, the scholars stated that the many pros of cell-based meat – particularly for the environment and food security – outweigh any theoretical cons.

The specific halal requirements outlined today by MUIS largely align with those released several months ago by Shariah scholars in Saudi Arabia, including stipulations that: the cell-based meat product’s cell line must derive from a species that Muslims are allowed to eat (for example chickens are permitted, pigs are not); the cell-culture medium must not include non-halal ingredients; and the finished product must be approved by the appropriate food-safety regulatory agency.

40% of people in Southeast Asia identify as Muslim, including 15% of Singaporeans. GFI APAC says that “halal certification of cultivated meat is a logical next chapter in the city-state’s evolving food story”.

The announcement has been welcomed by food producers within the region, who GFI APAC says have been looking for guidance on how they might achieve religious certifications. In an industry-wide survey released by GFI APAC last year, 87% of cell-based meat producers said that complying with halal requirements was a priority for their business.

GFI APAC managing director Mirte Gosker said: “More than a billion people around the world adhere to halal food standards, so for cultivated meat to make the leap from novelty to the norm, it is crucial that there are viable pathways to achieve this certification. Building a truly inclusive, efficient, and secure protein production system requires making high-quality, nutrient-rich, and culturally relevant foods available to every facet of society.”

“With MUIS’s precedent-setting announcement, Singapore is bringing that bold vision one step closer to reality.”

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