In turning inedible cells into edible ones, previous laws defining what is kosher could be circumnavigated, Genach says. “What if they took hair from the pig? Hair is not edible. If they can produce it from the hair and generate the meat, what would its status be?”

There’s precedent for such a question. About a decade ago, the Orthodox Union was confronted with the question of whether an amino acid called L-Cysteine would be considered kosher. L-Cysteine is derived from duck feathers and is used as a dough conditioner and strengthener in breads, and has the added benefit of extending shelf life. But just how those feathers were procured became a question for religious scholars.

It’s easiest to strip birds of their feathers after first soaking them in hot water, and industry standards stop workers from using water that’s too hot, out of fear of pre-cooking the ducks. Industry standards set the temperature at 160-degrees Fahrenheit (71-degrees Celsius). However, religious texts address the issue of soaking a bird in hot water, and raise concern about the animal having not been properly killed or prepared first. Genack ruled the process was kosher because, once the amino acid was collected from the feathers, it was run through a purification process before being crystalized, and that the process made its use in foods permissible. Theoretically, he says, pork from the hair from a pig may be viewed similarly.

The issue is complicated by thoughts on other animals, though. In considering chicken meat, Genack has previously said meat derived from chicken cell wouldn’t be considered kosher unless the cells were harvested from a bird slaughtered in accordance with religious standards. The changing thought on the matter shows just how complicated it can become to navigate ancient beliefs through modern-day technology, all the way to the dinner table.

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