An Israeli company has received a preliminary green light from health officials to sell the world's first steaks made from cultivated beef cells, not the entire animal, officials said. The move follows approval of lab-grown chicken in the U.S. last year.
Aleph Farms, of Rehovot, Israel, was granted the initial go-ahead by the Israeli Health Ministry in December, the company said in a news release. The move was announced late Wednesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the development "a global breakthrough."
The firm said it planned to introduce a cultivated "petite steak" to diners in Israel. The beef will be grown from cells derived from a fertilized egg from a Black Angus cow named Lucy living on a California farm.
Regulators must still approve the company's labels and conduct a final inspection, said Yoav Reisler, of Aleph Farms. After that, it could take months before the product is served to diners.
Aleph Farms joins Upside Foods and Good Meat, two California-based firms that got the go-ahead to sell cultivated chicken in the U.S. in June. More than 150 companies in the world are pursuing the goal of creating cultivated, or "cell-cultured," meat, also known as lab-grown meat.
Proponents say that creating meat from cells will drastically reduce harm to animals and avoid the environmental impacts of of conventional meat production. But the industry faces obstacles that include high costs and the challenge of producing enough meat at a large enough scale to make production affordable and profitable.
Cultivated meat is grown in large steel tanks using cells that come from a living animal, a fertilized egg or a special bank of stored cells. The original cells are combined with special nutrients to help them grow into masses or sheets of meat that are shaped into familiar foods such as cutlets or steaks.