Israeli lab-grown chicken certified kosher in the United States

Ritual slaughter, shechita, is not required for the lab-grown meat product


(JNS) Jewish households in the United States sitting down to Friday night dinner could soon find themselves tucking into lab-grown chicken after the product was certified kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU).

Produced by the Israeli startup SuperMeat, this it is the first lab-grown “meat” product to be approved by the kosher certification agency.

Lab-grown chicken is grown from fertilised chicken egg stem cells, and as such, doesn’t come from a live animal, which would be prohibited under Jewish law.

Announcing the decision, Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, said: “The OU is pleased to provide certification to a product that meets kosher standards, while also leading innovation in food technology."

Genack added: "Ultimately, in order to produce the product at an industrial volume, the company plans to perform a process in which the [chicken] cells are propagated in industrial sized bioreactors."

The cells are taken during a “narrow zone of time” between when the egg is laid and blood spots appear, at which point the egg would be rendered non-kosher.

Ritual slaughter, shechita, is not required for the lab-grown “chicken,” and although there might be issues of forbidden mixtures (kilayim) in other cases, “there is no such problem" where this product is concerned, according to the OU.

"Essentially, what happens is that the cells - initially a minimal amount - are introduced into an environment in which the cells divide. One becomes two, two become four and so on,” Genack said.

“The environment that the original cells are delivered into is composed entirely of kosher (pareve) ingredients.”

The chicken will be considered meat, he said.

The environment is designed to provide energy to the cells and to stimulate their growth, and chemicals that mimic natural systems instruct the cells.

“Through this process of cell division, the original miniscule sample obtained from the newly-laid egg becomes more substantive,” Genack said. “

Through additional technical processes, that substance can adopt a specific form and even assume the identity of specific types of cells, like a muscle cell.”

“In this way, one can produce something that resembles a chicken nugget, for example.”

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