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Scientists are developing means of growing artificial meat in a petri dish. Does such 'meat' have the halachic status of meat?

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/11/us-science-meat-f-idUSTRE7AA30020111111

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Firstly, I would assume you need to start with material from a shechted animal; bu even that is not 100% clear. Interesting. Sounds like a question for a posek, not SE. –  yitznewton Nov 13 '11 at 19:03
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@yitznewton the main difference between a question for a posek and one for here is what you plan to do with the information. There's no reason novel questions of halacha can't be discussed here for theory's sake. Also, if a posek has indeed addressed this question, referring to that would of course be a valuable answer here. –  Isaac Moses Nov 14 '11 at 2:17
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I'm curious if this is at all comparable to case in the gemara sanhedrin where R' Yochanan and Resh Lakish would create cows through kabbalah. Also, there's another gemara in sanhedrin where meat fell from heaven. Are those halachically meat? –  HodofHod Nov 14 '11 at 6:45
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@HodofHod they are 100% applicable, look it up and post it as an answer :) –  avi Nov 14 '11 at 10:28
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@avi unfortunately, the gemara only seems to talk about whether they are kosher or require shechita and/or nikkur. I can't find anything regarding whether they were halachically meat or not. –  HodofHod Nov 14 '11 at 17:41

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The article says that the this meat is created using stem cells from slaughtered animals:

Using stem cells harvested from leftover animal material from slaughterhouses, Post nurtures them with a feed concocted of sugars, amino acids, lipids, minerals and all other nutrients they need to grow in the right way.

When it comes to nullifying something forbidden that is mixed in with something permitted, there are several conditions that prevent nullification. On of them is called a Davar Hama'amed. From the Star-K's website:

A Davar Hama’amidis something that “creates” a particular product. A classic example of this is non-kosher animal rennet used to make cheese. Without the enzymatic reaction caused by the rennet, there would be no cheese. Hence, even if the milk is sixty times the rennet, the finished product is not kosher.

It is possible that these stem cells would be considered a Davar Hama'amed, since the whole concoction is dependent on the stem cells to exist. Since a Davar Hama'amed is never nullified, it doesn't matter how minute the stems cells are, they would still make the final product meat, and therefore subject to all the regulations thereof.

Thoughts?


It would seem that the only way around this would be if the stem cells came from the bones of the animal (not the bone marrow). As described here, bones are not considered meat. However, I'm not sure stem cells can be extracted from bones, it is not listed as one of the sources of stem cells, here.

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Not sure if this is a distinction w/o a difference, but the issur (rennet) encourages the dairy to mature into cheese, whereas here, the other ingredients encourage/support the stem cells themselves to grow. So the end product is directly generated from original stem cells. If anything, that should be "worse." –  yitznewton Nov 14 '11 at 18:58
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This is from a completely unofficial, tenative email conversation with the Star-K: <<Rabbi Heinemann has told me in the past that if they start with neveilah meat as the source material it will not be kosher, and, even if they start with kosher meat, the growth medium also needs to be kosher. I asked him whether starting with neveilah meat would be a problem if the source material was microscopic. He was skeptical that it starts off microscopic and invisible to the naked eye. I guess that we would need to know more about the process and circumstances before making any decision.>> –  ChaimKut Dec 20 '12 at 20:10
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You could also use a mathematical/logical approach. If you start with one cell, it divides into two, and you have two cells with the same status as the original. Thus you can never get to a stage of nullification. Presumably this is similar to the basis that Rabbi Heinemann quoted above used. –  Epicentre Aug 6 '13 at 4:57
    
Yes, I feel that it's considered the meat of the original animal even though it unnaturally continued to grow away from the life of the animal. Surely no loophole would be employed to allow something so unnecessary and against the perception of kosher meat. The effect would be negative and I think probably it would be outright wrong. I don't know how accurate my feelings are, but they are strong about this :) –  Annelise Aug 6 '13 at 12:32

Rabbi Daniel Friedman, in an article entitle Pareve Meat (pp. 93-105), wrote a halachic analysis of this topic for the RJJ Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society some years ago (Number LIII from Pesach 5767, Spring 2007). His analysis points to 3 possible conclusions:

  1. Not Kosher
  2. Kosher - Meat
  3. Kosher - Pareve

Each of these successive conclusions requires an additional level of complication and dependency regarding the Halachic analysis and a willingness to rule to the lenient side of Machloket. Issues involved which he cites include: Chatzei Shiur, ChaNaN (Chaticha Naaseit Neveilah), Ein Mivatalin Issur L'Chatchila, Davar HaMaamid, and Marit Ayin.

I'll conclude by quoting his conclusion:

Pareve "meat" would have to be grown in a medium or culture, which one cannot automatically assume would be kosher. Consequently, the entire process would require kashruth certification. It is unclear whether kashruth authorities would eventually determine the finished product to be fleishig or pareve. However, even if it is considered pareve, one must be aware of potential marit ayin issues, at least until the product becomes widespread. MOre to the point, it is highly questionable if any reputable kashruth organization would even be willing to provide hasgacha for such a product, inasmuch as the entire product is based on numberous heterim.

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you can see the table of contents for the journal here (last page of the pdf): halachicadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/… –  Menachem Aug 5 '13 at 22:02
    
If you grew a substance in that kind of medium that was started off with the meat of a mammal, then even if it weren't technically considered meat (even though I think it would be)... think about how you also can't eat chicken etc. with milk. Wouldn't the 'not-meat' seem a lot closer to beef or lamb, or such, than chicken does? So maybe for that reason it would be counted fleishig? –  Annelise Aug 6 '13 at 12:41

I remember the Rav of our shul was a Rav in Switzerland during the war and they had banned shechitah. They relied for meat on a herd of specially raised cows. These were cows that as calves were still in the mothers womb, when the mother was schected. They apparently managed to get a herd of these animals and their offspring that did not require schetiah. So I wonder if you started with meat from a schected animal is a similar issue would apply.

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Does anyone know when and where this occurred? –  Avrohom Yitzchok Nov 14 '11 at 17:09
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fascinating! I was aware that this was (biblically) allowed, but I was unaware that it had ever been done. Source? –  HodofHod Nov 14 '11 at 17:36
    
That is a truly amazing concept...! Still, poor calves to be born that way, and also the mothers to be killed while pregnant. It's not ideal and I think it shouldn't be done deliberately. –  Annelise Aug 6 '13 at 12:34
    
Wow, never heard this story before –  Shokhet May 16 at 21:45
    
@Annelise This is called בן פקוע (Ben Pakua) and is real...you are correct, it should not be done deliberately, however, that probably classes as שעת הדחק (literally "a difficult time") where it would be allowed even ab initio –  Shokhet May 16 at 21:46

That’s because meat produced through this process could be considered parve – neither meat nor dairy — according to Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division. Thus, under traditional Jewish law, the burger could be paired with dairy products.

Several key conditions would have to be met to create kosher, parve cultured beef. The tissue samples would have to come from an animal that had been slaughtered according to kosher rules, not from a biopsy from a live animal, Genack said.

The principle underlying this theory is much like the status of gelatin in Jewish law: Though it is derived from an animal, it is not meat (the OU certifies some bovine-derived gelatin as parve).

Genack noted another source for viewing cultured meat as parve: A 19th century Vilna-born scholar known as the Heshek Shlomo wrote that the meat of an animal conjured up in a magical incantation could be considered parve. It may not be too much of a stretch, then, to apply the same logic to modern genetic wizardry.

Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/has-the-era-of-the-kosher-cheeseburger-arrived/

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'Beit Hillel' weighs in, though much of the same material: beithillel.org.il/blog.asp?id=61572#maamar61572 –  ChaimKut Aug 17 '13 at 21:55

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