Food & Drink

Israel approves sale of Aleph Farms’ cultivated beef

Health officials in Israel have sanctioned the sale of cultivated beef made by Aleph Farms.

Israel’s Ministry of Health has issued regulatory approval for Aleph Cuts in the form of a “No Questions” letter.

The first Aleph Cut to be introduced to diners in Israel — the cultivated Petit Steak — will be made of non-modified, non-immortalized cells of a Black Angus cow and a plant protein matrix from soy and wheat. Aleph Farms did not say when the product would be available.

While “cell-based,” “cultivated,” and “cultured” are preferred terminologies, other terms such as “in vitro,” “artificial,” “fake,” “clean,” and “lab-grown” have been used.

In December 2020, chicken nuggets were approved in Singapore using Eat Just’s cultivated chicken. However, Italy has banned cell-based meat. In June 2023, Upside Foods and Good Meat received backing from the USDA to sell cultivated chicken products.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) published a report in 2023 on the food safety aspects of cell-based food.

First cultivated beef approval

Didier Toubia, CEO and co-founder of Aleph Farms, praised Israel’s approach to cellular agriculture.

“We believe that addressing joint challenges like food security is the best way to ensure the prosperity of the Middle East and other parts of the world that rely heavily on massive food imports, especially in Asia,” he said.

Aleph Farms said no antibiotics are used in production. A controlled and traceable process, including an aseptic production environment, increases transparency and reduces the risk of contamination. 

Yifat Gavriel, chief of regulatory affairs, quality assurance, and product safety at Aleph Farms, said 2024 could be a landmark year in regulating and commercializing cultivated meat.

“This approval grants us permission to produce and market our product in Israel, subject to specific directions for labeling and marketing provided by the Israeli Ministry of Health and the completion of a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) inspection for our pilot production facility.”

Cultured meat is a novel food that must be approved to protect public health. Each application is examined individually since companies have different technologies, production processes, and products.

Dr. Ziva Hamama, food risk management department director at Israel’s Ministry of Health, said the regulatory approval of bovine cell-based food boosts the country’s position in cellular agriculture.

“This regulatory milestone…reflects a comprehensive assessment of crucial factors, from toxicology and allergens to nutritional composition, microbiological safety, and chemical safety throughout the entire production process – from the initial cell isolation to processing and packaging.”

Bruce Friedrich, founder, and president of the Good Food Institute, said: “This announcement marks a critical leap in the global race to make the meat that people love in a way that’s better for our climate, biodiversity, and food security. We’re thrilled that consumers in Israel will soon be able, like those in the U.S. and Singapore, to purchase these delicious products.”

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