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Aleph Farms granted world’s first regulatory approval for cultivated beef

January 17, 2024

Aleph Farms has announced that, in December 2023, following a rigorous review process by Israel’s Ministry of Health (MoH), the government agency issued regulatory approval for Aleph Cuts, the world’s first cultivated beef steaks, in the form of a 'No Questions' letter. This green light is the first ever for non-chicken cultivated meat anywhere in the world. It is also the first for cultivated meat of any kind in the Middle East, where solutions to food insecurity and climate change are woven into the very fabric of regional collaboration.

This milestone is a testament to Aleph Farms’ distinctive approach, one that involves an initial focus on growing high-quality products from cells sourced from cattle. When cultivated in controlled environments, these cells – the building blocks of beef – become key to growing Aleph Cuts. The reasons for this focus are impact (conventional cattle farming has the highest environmental footprint across all of animal agriculture and many regions are especially reliant on imports for beef) and value (of common animal proteins, beef delivers the highest value in global markets, shortening the timeline to price parity). Together, impact and value pave a clear path for the acceptance of cellular agriculture, propelling its long-term growth and success.

“The entire Aleph team has united in strength and determination to deliver no matter what during these difficult times in Israel. We are excited to carry this resilience forward in the form of innovation in agriculture and food security," said Didier Toubia, CEO & Co-Founder of Aleph Farms. "Such innovation has been at the heart of Israel’s vision from the country’s very beginning, from early kibbutz practices to modern drip irrigation. With its global leadership in cellular agriculture, Israel continues to push for greater regional integration and economic collaboration, which will be crucial for stabilizing the region. 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. On behalf of our entire team, I would like to thank the Ministry of Health, the Israel Innovation Authority and all the other involved government agencies for their commitment to advance the first cultivated beef product in the world. Now more than ever, Aleph Farms remains committed to making the world a better place.”

For cellular agriculture to catalyze an inclusive transition to sustainable and resilient food systems, public-private partnerships are essential. Israel has been keen on pioneering such partnerships. In April 2022, the Israel Innovation Authority allocated US$18 million in government grants to the world’s largest cultivated meat consortium of private companies and research institutions, including Aleph Farms. The same goes for regional and global organizations like the World Economic Forum and the United Nations (including FAO) as well as a wide range of governments around the world, which continue to increase their support of innovators across both industry and academia as part of their countries’ national plans for food safety, food security and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction. Aleph Farms has offered insights and data to promote such efforts from all of these partners and is honored to receive support for its mission from state-backed sovereign funds in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The first Aleph Cut to be introduced to diners in Israel, the cultivated Petit Steak, is made of non-modified, non-immortalized cells of a premium Black Angus cow named Lucy, as well as a plant protein matrix made of soy and wheat. Aside from starter cells that come from one of Lucy’s fertilized eggs, there are zero animal-derived components (i.e., no fetal bovine serum) in the cultivation process and the final product. No antibiotics are used in production, nor are any present in the final product. A controlled and traceable process, including an aseptic production environment, increases transparency and greatly reduces any risk of contamination.

“2024 stands to be a landmark year for the advancement of regulatory pathways and commercialization of cultivated meat," said Yifat Gavriel, Chief of Regulatory Affairs, Quality Assurance and Product Safety at Aleph Farms. "With this historic regulatory approval, Israel’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has firmly cemented its leadership position in introducing world-changing innovation in a way that builds trust with consumers. Working closely with the Food Risk Management Department at the IMOH, led by Dr Ziva Hamama, we have ensured full compliance with safety standards and shaped the regulatory landscape for novel foods, opening the door for cellular agriculture to enhance food safety and food security. This approval grants us permission to produce and market our product in Israel, subject to specific directions for labeling and marketing provided by the IMOH, and the completion of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) inspection for our pilot production facility. Our regulatory team is working in similar fashion with authorities in numerous markets around the world in order to ensure compliance with respective safety requirements.”

“This regulatory approval of bovine cell-based food establishes Israel as a global leader in this emerging field but also underscores the National Food Service in the Ministry of Health’s commitment to prioritizing public health," added Dr Ziva Hamama, Food Risk Management Department Director at Israel’s Ministry of Health. "This regulatory milestone, the first of its kind worldwide, 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. The Food Risk Management Department in the Ministry of Health continues to engage in extensive discussions with various companies in the alternative protein sector, aiming to advance the field and ensure the safety of products entering the Israeli market.”

“Aleph Farms, which grew in 'The Kitchen by Strauss', incubator funded by the Israel Innovation Authority, is undoubtedly one of the flagship companies leading the Israeli alternative protein market, and a world leader in its field," stated Ronit Eshel, foodtech sector lead, Israel Innovation Authority. "The company, which has won our trust year after year, has recently been awarded additional investment from the Innovation Authority for its plans to transition from development to production, and for its commitment to launch its first manufacturing facility here in Israel. The State of Israel has become a world leader in technology developments in the foodtech sector, thanks to companies like Aleph Farms, who dreamed, and have taken risks to realize and develop groundbreaking products to the world. These advanced products carry much anticipation, due to the expected shortage of food, and much due to their positive effect on the climate in terms of carbon emissions, along with the sensitivity to animals. This is a historic day and we are proud to take part in the success.”

“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," commented Bruce Friedrich, Founder & President, The Good Food Institute. "Congratulations to the team at Aleph Farms on becoming the third company in the world to secure regulatory approval for cultivated meat and the first for a cultivated beef product. We’re thrilled that consumers in Israel will soon join those in the US and Singapore able to purchase these delicious products.”

“Today marks a significant milestone as the Israeli government grants the first-ever regulatory approval of a cultivated beef product by Israeli startup Aleph Farms," added Alla Voldman, VP of Strategy & Policy, The Good Food Institute Israel. "We commend Aleph Farms for obtaining the groundbreaking approval and extend gratitude to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Health, the Innovation Authority and the National Food Service for their professional work. This achievement underscores the unwavering support in the Israeli alternative protein sector, which stands out globally. Three out of the first eight cultivated meat companies worldwide are Israeli. 15% of global investments in the field are allocated to Israeli cultivated meat companies. This ecosystem includes the world’s largest cultivated meat consortium, led by Tnuva with an investment of around 60 million NIS from the Israel Innovation Authority. We believe that the robust presence of companies working on cultivated meat, fermentation, and plant-based options, coupled with advanced academic research, entrepreneurship, industry, and unique consumer market, provide Israel with even more momentum to lead propel the field forward. This strengthens our ability to provide value to countries worldwide in an era of climate and food security crises.”

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