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It's Shabbat chicken - straight from the lab

    If this is the future of the Friday-night meal, it's not for the squeamish.

    An Israeli company has come up with a way to "grow" chicken meat out of cells taken from a live animal.

    Koby Barak, CEO and co-founder of SuperMeat, is convinced that the result will be "real, tasty meat", and entirely kosher.

    Mr Barak's business partner, Yaakov Nahmias, a biomedical engineer at Hebrew University, developed the technique used to grow the meat.

    It involves taking a small tissue sample from a chicken via a biopsy. Cells from the sample are then treated and duplicated in a special "nutrient soup", forming tissue which in turn will develop into meat.

    On the question of supervision, Shir Friedman, a spokesperson for SuperMeat, said: "We went to the biggest rabbis we could find and asked them what they thought.

    "We were very pleasantly surprised - every single one of them said that there will be a way to make this kosher."

    She added, however: "The rabbis are divided into two groups. Some of them say that it will be kosher and meat, and some of them say that it will be kosher and parev."

    Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a prominent religious-Zionist authority who is based in Israel, said: "The question is this: do I rule according to the process or according to the result?

    "If I rule according to the result, it appears just like ordinary meat, so the product would be meat. But if we rule according to the process, and the process is nothing like the usual process of how animals are raised and meat is produced, then it can be parev."

    Issues being discussed by rabbis include what form of rabbinical supervision the product might need, since it would come from an animal not ritually slaughtered; as well as whether the SuperMeat technique might fall under the halachic prohibition on eating a limb removed from a live animal. However, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow of Ra'anana dismissed that possibility, saying "it is not even a limb".

    As yet, Israel's Charedi authorities have not addressed this question.

    Mr Barak, who is a vegan and would eat the meat, pointed out that the process involved "zero animal suffering". The laboratory meat would reach the market "within five years", he added.

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