In world first, Health Ministry approves sale to public of Aleph Farm’s cultivated meat

Aleph Farms' cultivated thin-cut steak. (Courtesy)
Aleph Farms' cultivated thin-cut steak. (Courtesy)

In a world first, the Health Ministry says it has granted approval to Israel’s Aleph Farms Ltd., a startup that grows meat cuts directly from cattle cells, to sell cultivated meat to the public.

The Rehovot-based maker of cultivated meat Aleph said last year that it was targeting the rollout of its first product, a cultivated thin-cut steak, in limited quantities in Singapore and Israel, pending regulatory approvals. It has also requested approval in Switzerland.

“In view of the growing global demand for proteins and the importance of producing products of non-living origin, the Ministry of Health is working to approve alternative food sources,” the ministry says.

“In light of this, and as part of a pilot program for the examination of an alternative protein, carried out in the Department of Food Risk Management, in the National Food Service of the Ministry of Health, a ‘new food’ product that includes cell culture originating from cattle, rather than chicken cells, also known as ‘cultured meat,’ was approved for the first time in the world.”

The ministry says approval to sell to the general public came after widespread health and safety checks on the product.

To produce its meat, Aleph leverages the ability of animals to grow tissue muscle constantly and isolates the cells responsible for that process. It then reproduces the optimal conditions for these cells to grow into tissue, basically growing meat outside the animal without using antibiotics. The tissue is grown in tanks that act as fermenters, similar to those in a brewery. There the cells are nurtured and shaped into a 3D structure that makes the meat.

The startup is one of the main players in the growing Israeli food tech sector, which in recent years has become an important hub for cultured meat — a key subsector in the alternative protein market, which comprises plant-based substitutes for meat, dairy, and egg; cultured dairy, meat and seafood; insect proteins; and fermentation products and processes.

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