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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
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Is the Lab-Created Burger Kosher?

Preliminary thoughts on the halachic status of lab-created meat: it's kosher--if you started the process kosher. but no final words yet.

Lab-grown meat. but is it kosher?

Lab-grown meat. but is it kosher?

The Product In Jewish law, a food that contains only a minuscule amount of a non-kosher ingredient can still be considered kosher if the non-kosher ingredient is nullified (usually) by at least a factor of 60 to 1. At first glance it would appear that we can apply this rule to our scenario, since the original cells are greatly outnumbers by the “meat” produced. However, halachah states that the above rule does not apply to a “davar hama’amid,” an ingredient that establishes the form of the item. The essential ingredient can never be nullified, no matter how small it is.12 It would seem that the same rule applies to the cells that are essential to growing the meat. If they don’t come from a kosher source, they can never be nullified, and whatever is created with them is also not kosher.

As noted earlier, these are just preliminary thoughts on the subject. Any halachik ruling would have to come from rabbis who are expert in these matters.

FOOTNOTES
1. Psalms 104:21
2. Rashi explains that this is a species of bird that always seems to be wailing and mourning. Some commentators explain that he meant to admonish his student Rabbi Zera for his excessive asceticism. Rabbi Abbhu felt that the many fasts that Rabbi Zera undertook had taken a toll on his clarity of mind, this being an example of it, see Chavos Ya’ir 152.
3. Talmud Sanhedrin 59b
4. A Kabbalistic work ascribed to Abraham our forefather.
5. Talmud Sanhedrin 65b
6. Shalaha Parshas Vayeishev. He cites this piece of Talmud in relation to the episode of the selling of Joseph by his brothers, which, some explain, was a punishment to Joseph. Thinking that he had seen the brothers eat the limb from a living animal, he went and tattled to his father. However, the Shelah explains that in fact the animal they ate was similar to the one described in the Talmud here, and therefore it did not required slaughter and was also not an issue of Eiver Min Hachai.
7. See Pischei Teshuvah on Yoreh Deih 62:1
8. Deuteronomy 12:23
9. Exodus 22:13
10. Maimonidies laws of kings 9:10. For more on the seven Noahide laws, see The Seven Noahide Laws
11. Talmud Bechoros 5b
12. Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deiah 87:11

Originally published at Chabad.org.

About the Author: Chabad.org is a division of the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center, under the auspices of the Lubavitch World Headquarters


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7 Responses to “Is the Lab-Created Burger Kosher?”

  1. Interesting as this discussion might be, the authoritative source to this answer will be the O-U whose certification will be the decisive issue.

  2. Gil Gilman says:

    Be careful though…next they will be growing a man in a Petri dish and it will have to be decided whether he can become a mensch.

  3. Alan Kardon says:

    Why would you want to eat chemicals? 20 years from now they will claim it is highly cancerous.

  4. Barry Graham says:

    I first heard of this a couple of years ago and I have not been able to find an answer. This is not some far fetched fantasy, this is a real possibility that is almost upon us, I hope our Rabbanim will have an answer soon.

  5. Barry Graham says:

    I first heard of this a couple of years ago and I have not been able to find an answer. This is not some far fetched fantasy, this is a real possibility that is almost upon us, I hope our Rabbanim will have an answer soon.

  6. @Alan Kardon, you didn't get it. This is not chemicals, this is meat made out of cells grown from meat. The meat should be the same stuff as regular meat, except it was never on a hoof.

  7. Yechiel Baum says:

    will that lower the cost of Kosher meat and remove the need for Mashgiach and allow it to also be made in Poland thereby avoiding paying Polish farmers for their meat and no Polish taxes?

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