Cellularly farmed chicken meat produced by SuperMeat in Israel has received kosher certification from the most globally recognized kashrut certification agency, just days before the Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShanah). (1)
An important recognition not only for the Jewish community but also for the Muslim community and for all consumers who - regardless of belief - place their trust in the food safety and quality of kosher certified foods (2,3).
The 'cultured chicken cell meat' from Upside Food and Good Meat has meanwhile obtained the green light for production and marketing in the USA. While Israel is still proposing the use of proteins from tobacco leaves to reduce production costs.
1) SuperMeat, chicken meat grown from kosher certified cellular agriculture
supermeat he takes the cells of a fertilized egg – before the first blood stains appear, given the ban on Jews from ingesting even minimal traces of blood in eggs – and places them in a fermenter where they mature into chicken meat tissue.
OU Kosher of New York, the largest kosher certification agency on the planet, has therefore established that the chicken meat produced in the laboratory by SuperMeat of Tel Aviv adheres to the mehadrin standards, the strictest level of kashrut supervision.
2) Kosher, guidelines for cultured meat are coming soon
Certification of OU (Ortodox Union) is derived from a series of in-depth halachic discussions and scientific reviews. The assessments focused on issues related to avian embryogenesis – that is, the first weeks of development after fertilization of a chicken egg – and stem cells.
This result constitutes the basis for a careful analysis of the supply chain and the production process of cultured meat, in view of the drafting of specific kosher guidelines for other companies in the sector. OU Kosher and SuperMeat will collaborate on a line of cultured products made with the highest level of kashrut oversight.
3) 'Cultured chicken cell meat', green light to be placed on the US market
The 'cultured chicken cell meat' – initially authorized only on the tiny island of Singapore – is now at the starting line on the US market, after the first authorizations received in recent months:
– on November 16, 2022 the US Food and Drug Administration expressed no objections to 'cultured chicken cell material' Upside Food which thus set up a 57.000 m4 production plant in Rubicon, Illinois, (XNUMX)
– on March 20, 2023, the FDA approved the production process and recognized the safety of chicken meat from cellular agriculture by Good Meat, Inc. (with offices in Alameda, California, USA, and Singapore), (5,6)
– on 21 June 2023 FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service), at the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), gave the green light to the placing on the market of Upside Foods and Good Meat's 'cultured chicken cell meat'. (7)
4) Authorization prospects in other countries
The green light in the USA to cultured chicken meat and the first in-principle endorsements by kosher and halal certification bodies constitute the premise for the authorization of these novel foods in Israel as in the Persian Gulf, where sensitivity towards food innovation is more pronounced than elsewhere.
EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) - in the scientific symposium organized on 11-12 March 2023 - confirmed that the conditions exist to evaluate the suitability of 'cell culture-derived food' for human consumption, like other products derived from fermentation of precision. (8)
In the Netherlands, €60 million of public funds have been invested in a €252 million plan aimed at building a thriving cellular agriculture ecosystem. And while waiting for novel food authorizations, from 1 July 2023 the government has authorized the 'consumer testing' of meat from cellular agriculture. (9)
5) Investors waiting
Over 110 startups and businesses in the cellular agriculture Alt Meat sector they have so far raised more than US$ 3 billion in investments, on a global level. Public and private investors are therefore showing a certain prudence, not on the technology nor on the products but on their ability to compete with traditional meats also on consumer prices. (10)
Future Meats of Jerusalem - an absolute pioneer in the development of an industrial production plant for 'cultured cell meats' in Rehovot, Northern Israel, as we have seen (11) - is in fact the company in the sector that has so far raised the largest investments. US$347 million, also from Tyson Foods and ADM (Archer Daniels Midland). (12)
6) Protein from tobacco leaves
Israel – it is no coincidence that the global leader for investments in research and development (4,9% GDP) – also stands out in this sector for 'innovation within innovation'. Thus BioBetter, a startup based in Kiryat Shmona (Northern Israel), has identified tobacco leaves as a useful resource from which to extract proteins - insulin and transferrin in particular - and the growth factor FGF2.
BioBetter it then grows tobacco plants to provide substrates for cellular agriculture, at costs up to 100 times lower than today. 'Cultured meat is still very expensive compared to conventional meat and the key is to minimize growing medium costs' (Dr. Amit Yaari, BioBetter, CEO).
7) Provisional conclusions
It's not easy believe that cellular agriculture will be able to quickly replace products of animal origin (meat, fish and dairy products), nor can its potential impact on supply chains that still employ almost two billion people and contribute to food security at a global level be underestimated (13,14).
FAO on the other hand it highlighted the essential role of proteins of animal origin in human nutrition, also underlining the need for a series of interventions on livestock farming to reduce its impact on the environment (15,16).
It seems clear in any case, as precision fermentation will contribute to the protein ration of populations - together with 'plant-based foods', microalgae, mycoproteins, insects (17) - and it will not be possible to hinder its developments with a priori national bans, such as the one now debated in Italy. (18)
(1) Leah Douglas. Lab-grown meat can be kosher and halal, experts say. https://tinyurl.com/3edyb8s8 Reuters. 11.9.23
(2) Mohd Izhar Ariff Mohd Kashim, Alia Aryssa Abdul Haris, Sahilah Abd. Mutalib, Nurina Anuar, Safiyyah Shahimi (2023). Scientific and Islamic perspectives in relation to the Halal status of cultured meat. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2022.103501
(3) EunHa Jeong, Qian Yang, SoJung Lee & Robert Bosselman (2019). Factors for non-Jewish consumers' kosher food choice: An investigation of the food quality perception, Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 22:6, 529-548, doi: 10.1080/15378020.2019.1658514
(4) FDA Completes First Pre-Market Consultation for Human Food Made Using Animal Cell Culture Technology. https://tinyurl.com/bdfvdk6j FDA Constituent Update, 16 November 2022
(5) FDA. Human Food Made with Cultured Animal Cells Inventory. https://tinyurl.com/5txmz5rc Last update 26.3.23
(6) Good Meat, Inc. is the 'cultured cell division' of Eat Just, which already markets a 'plant-based' egg substitute, approved in the European Union as a novel food. V. Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Novel Foods, EFSA green light for mung bean protein extracts. Eat Just's vegetable egg. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 9.11.21
(7) FSIS Responsibilities in Establishments Producing Cell-Cultured Meat and Poultry Food Product. https://tinyurl.com/4w3ymhn7 USDA. 21 June 2023
(8) EFSA's Scientific Colloquium 27 'Cell culture-derived foods and food ingredients'. https://tinyurl.com/yj28z4m4 11.-12 March 2023
(9) Code of Practice for Safely Conducting Tastings of Cultivated Foods Prior to EU Approval (2023). https://tinyurl.com/3654ryar Cellular Agriculture Netherlands (CAN)
(10) Leah Douglas. As lab-grown meat hits menus, the next investor hurdle is scaling. https://tinyurl.com/muh8camm Reuters. 20.7.23
(11) Dario Dongo. Israel, Future Meat. The first laboratory-grown meat industry is underway. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).
(12) Ricky-Ben David. Israel's Future Meat raises $347m, largest investment for cultured meat firm to date. https://tinyurl.com/t756tnnh The Times of Israel. 19.12.21
(13) Guido Cortese. Climate and antibiotic resistance. Will lab meat save us? GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 9.1.20
(14) Dario Dongo, Isis Consuelo Sanlucar Chirinos. Alternative proteins are not enough to create sustainable food systems. IPES Food report. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).
(15) Marta Strinati, Dario Dongo. Foods of animal origin necessary for nutrition and health, FAO report. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).
(16) Dario Dongo, Marina De Nobili. Animal husbandry, FAO proposes 5 intervention areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).
(17) Dario Dongo, Giulia Pietrollini. Alternative sources of protein to meat, Alt Meat. Which ones and why? GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 21.1.23
(18) Dario Dongo. Italy, cellular agriculture prohibited by law? Unconstitutional bill. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).