May 19, 2024

A recently published position paper in Israel explains that new methods of producing slaughter-free meat using pre-embryonic cells are considered “parve” – neither milk nor meat.  Does this mean that lab-grown “meat” produced from non-meat cells are technically not considered “meat” and therefore can be consumed with dairy?

The March 2022 ruling was signed by the Rabbi of Israel’s dairy giant Tnuva Rabbi Ze’ev Whitman, head of the Tzohar rabbinical organization’s kashruth branch Rabbi Oren Duvdevani, as well as Rabbi David Stav, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rabbi Aharon Katz, Rabbi Moshe Bigel and others, who agreed that the new method of producing meat altered the final product’s kashruth status. However, one of the signatories to the paper, former Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Aryeh Stern disagreed, opining that the lab-grown meat must not be cooked with dairy.

“At the beginning, the process of producing lab grown ‘meat’ was based on cells taken from live animals,” the rabbis wrote in a position paper. Many rabbinical authorities were divided about whether the process and the cloning of cells voided their halachic status as “meat”, whether they must be banned or not, or if they are even considered “meat”. In recent years, new methods have been developed to produce “meat” in laboratories based on cells that are not meat. Cells can now be taken from pre-embryonic cells in a fertilized egg.

According to the Rabbis, Jewish law states that the status of a fertilized chicken egg is kosher but neither meat nor milk and the same applies to the pre-embryonic cells taken from a cow. Therefore, they ruled, “meat” produced based on these cells and raised on a plant-based platform will be considered “parve” – neither meat nor dairy – even if the cells are identical to fat or muscle cells from an animal raised naturally.

“Despite the end product’s external similarity to meat products, it is no different in essence to the plant-based meat substitutes on the market. Therefore, it may be cooked and eaten along with dairy products without creating the mistaken impression that meat and dairy are being consumed together,” the paper concluded.

Does this mean you can eat a “Kosher” laboratory grown hamburger with a slice of cheese?  As always, ask your Rabbi.

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