February 28, 2023

Controversy Surrounds Cultured Meat

Jerusalem…Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau recently ruled that cultured meat is kosher. Rabbi Lau’s ruling specifically addressed the production process used by Aleph Farms of Rehovot, as the kashrut status of other production techniques vary. Some rabbis have ruled that the cultured meat with parts from a kosher animal is indeed meat. Rabbi Aviad Bartuv, the head of  Beit Midrash which deals with issues involving Torah and technology said: “There are significant complexities concerning the Kashrut status of cultured meat. Each and every variation in production procedures leads to a range of questions for those judging the issue. [Those questions are] not limited to whether the product is meat or not meat.”

According to Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union (OU) Kashrus Division’s reading of the kosher laws, meat must be considered in terms of its origins—in the case of cultured meat, the source animal for the original cell line. If meat is harvested from a living animal, even a microscopic amount of cells, “it’s not kosher,” says Genack. The solution, he says, is to obtain genetic material from a freshly slaughtered animal. “Maybe that is a little bit of a challenge, but if it’s possible to do, then it would be kosher.” While theoretically possible, this would go against cultivated meat companies’ principal selling point: no animal slaughter.