By Leah Douglas
(Reuters) -Lab-grown meat can be labeled kosher and halal as long as its cells are derived in methods compliant with religious standards, according to two panels of experts commissioned by the nascent industry.
The opinions are a win for cell-cultivated meat companies, executives said, because it means observant followers of Judaism and Islam could one day consume their products.
“It’s another marker around making cultivated meat a real solution,” said Josh Tetrick, CEO of GOOD Meat.
Cultivated meat is currently only sold in tiny quantities in the United States and Singapore, but companies hope private and public investors will infuse the sector with enough cash to scale production and alter diets around the world.
Cultivated meat is derived from a sample of animal cells that are fed a nutrient mix and grown in steel vats, avoiding the need for land-intensive industrial farming operations and slaughterhouses.
Companies in the fledgling industry hope their product will appeal to vegans and vegetarians as well as climate conscious meat eaters.
GOOD convened a panel of three sharia experts who reviewed the company’s production and on Sunday said cultivated meat can be halal if, among other factors, the cells from which the meat is made come from an animal slaughtered according to Islamic law.
Though GOOD’s chicken does not currently meet that standard, the opinion provides a roadmap for the industry to make halal products, Tetrick said in an interview.
The Orthodox Union (OU), the largest kosher certification agency, on Sept. 6 said cultivated chicken produced by Israeli company SuperMeat met its standards because the chicken cells were not fed any animal ingredients and were extracted from a fertilized egg before any blood spots appeared.
SuperMeat and the OU are working on broader guidelines for the industry, company CEO Ido Savir said.
More than 12 million people in the United States eat kosher products and 8 million eat halal products, according to the OU and Islamic Services of America, a halal certification agency.
Regulators cleared cultivated chicken for U.S. consumption earlier this year and it has since been served at some high-end restaurants.
(Reporting by Leah Douglas; Editing by Bill Berkrot)