Israel has become the first country to approve the sale of lab-cultured meat based on beef, a process which effectively takes the animal out of the equation.
Rehovot-based food-tech company Aleph Farms says it will now be able sell steak grown from cow cells - the first company in the world to do so.
Israel is the global leader in the cultivation of meat grown from animal cells in labs. Food tech companies are hoping to bypass the environmental impact of the meat industry as well as addressing concerns over animal welfare.
The Israeli Health Ministry's approval brings Aleph another step closer to bringing its thin-cut Aleph Cuts beef steaks to market. The meat is grown from cells taken from fertilised eggs harvested from a premium Black Angus cow, Lucy. The company says this was a one-off process through which they now have a collection of Lucy’s fertilised eggs and from which they expect to grow thousands of tonnes of steak.
Reuters reports that Ziva Hamama, the Director of Food Risk Management at the Health Ministry said: "This regulatory milestone, the first of its kind worldwide, reflects a comprehensive assessment of crucial factors, from toxicology and allergens to nutritional composition, microbiological safety, and chemical safety throughout the entire production process".
The hurdle of kashrut was overcome last year when Israel's chief rabbinate gave the company its approval. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau ruled that Aleph’s cultured meat is kosher and parev
because the meat is grown from stem cells taken from a fertilised egg rather than cells extracted from muscle tissue.
Since being founded in 2017, Aleph Farms has raised around $140 million and lists actor Leonardo DiCaprio as an advisory board member.
This ruling means Aleph could start selling to restaurants within months with food service and retail at a later date.
Yifat Gavriel, Aleph’s chief of regulatory affairs, quality assurance and product safety confirmed that his company also hopes to have the lab-cultured meat approved in other countries: "Aleph’s regulatory team is working in similar fashion with authorities in numerous markets around the world in order to ensure compliance with respective safety requirements."