August 12, 2013

Kosher Community Lukewarm to Lab-Grown Burger

NEW YORK — A new lab-grown burger that turned out to be the buzz of the week in the food community, including kosher, was met with less than an enthusiastic welcome by many in the kosher food industry. For starters, most rabbinic authorities ruled that the burger would be considered pareve, which was good news for vegetarians and organizations like PETA that would like to put restraints on kosher slaughter. The burger is produced by harvesting stem cells from a portion of cow shoulder muscle that were multiplied in petri dishes to form tiny strips of muscle fiber. About 20,000 of the strips were needed to create the five-ounce burger world’s first lab-grown burger. So far the lab-burger appears to be too expensive and no replacement for the taste of the real thing.  

The burger was financed partially by Google founder Sergey Brin and unveiled by Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. It isn’t as if the kosher market is waiting with bated breath for a burger that can finally be combined with cheese. Burgers made from vegetables and tofu as well as cheese made from tofu have been around for years. Vegetarian “meats” have become extremely popular in Israel and a major item for export, particularly to European countries that have had their share of Mad Cow’s Disease. Some rabbis pointed out that the lab-meats would never be acceptable at festive meals such as on Shabbat and holidays “as fish and meat” are the basic staples for a “seudah.”

Photo courtesy of Maastricht University