June 27, 2019

Lab Grown Meat and the Kosher Debate

“Last January, during a meet-and-greet of American food professionals and Israeli tech entrepreneurs at the headquarters of Start-Up Nation Central in Tel Aviv, I met Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. Toubia, a bespectacled fellow wearing a yarmulke, spoke with a French accent, lending himself an air of culinary credibility—a good thing, seeing as he was there to talk about beef.

Toubia didn’t discuss grass-fed or wagyu or dry-aged meat. His startup raises what he called “hydroponic meat”—that is, meat that is grown in a lab from stem cells and nourished by a substance that mimics bovine fetal serum, which then develops into tissue that is chemically identical to meat. “We reproduce the same environment inside a bioreactor as what is inside a cow,” said Toubia.

And no cows die in the making of this steak.

According to Toubia, the animal isn’t harmed in the least by the stem-cell extraction. And while earlier examples of clean meat have been created using real bovine fetal serum, which is harvested from dead pregnant cows, Aleph Farms—part of the Kitchen Food Tech Hub, a collection of “food industry disrupters” founded by Israel’s Strauss Group—uses a plant- and yeast-based alternative.”

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