Cultured Meat As A New Culture In Muslim Community
In food industry revolution, various modern technologies are applied to meet the needs of food security globally while ensuring sustainability of the food supply chain. One of them—synthetic technology, brings effect to the quality and quantity of food, productivity and efficiency of food production entirely. However, the quality aspect of food should not be compromised in order to meet the demand of food worldwide. Cultured meat is a modern product based on synthetic technology that has been successfully created nowadays. It is also expected to overcome the issue of food security.
Cultured meat is a lab-grown meat from animal cell and addressed many of the religious and public health concerns, ethical, economic and environmental associated with conventional meat production. The concern among others including greenhouse gas emissions, animal slaughtering, antibiotic resistance, land and water use, foodborne and zoonotic diseases. The perspective of cultured meat has gained attention in different religious traditions in many cultural and social discussion.
In cellular agricultural sector, cultured meat is a promising and evolving opportunity. In fact, cultured meat needs a high degree of technological transition, which could compromise an increase in its consumption. Although it is still at an early stage but it paves the way for more sustainable protein needs and animal welfare-conscious that has the ability to meet the nutritional value of conventional meat. Generally, meat contains vitamins, minerals, fats, and amino acids and the other components that play different roles in the body. As meat is one of the main source of protein in human diet, it promotes human wellbeing and physical growth. To date, several companies worldwide are currently improving the technologies needed to create a real muscle-based livestock meat without animal slaughtering.
Public perceptions of cultured meat with regards to the philosophy, ethics and religion should be taken into account if the product is to be commercialized. Today, approximately 1.8 billion Muslims, 1.1 billion Hindus, a half billion Buddhists and over 10 million Jews are affected by this emerging issue worldwide. These people embrace their religions with unique rules and customs about meat consumption. The most critical issue for Muslim consumers is whether cultured meat is halalan tayyiban.
According to al-Quran scripture and interpretation by prominent Islamic jurists, cultured meat is halal if the cells used originate from a halal-slaughtered animal and without the use of blood or animal-based serum and/or growth enhancers in the manufacturing process. On the other hand, as the origin of cells is fundamental to lab-grown meat halal status, meat from pig and other haram animal will not be approved.
Due to rapid growth in population, Muslim consumers represent a viable and lucrative business opportunity for cultured meat as possible future food consumption. Therefore, it is important to comprehend how religion may function to control interpretation and acceptance of novel products from new technologies. In reality, it is clear that media portrayal of cultured meat influences public perception by emphasizing certain aspects of the definition and framework.
There are barriers to the Muslim’s perception and acceptance towards cultured meat. Besides aspect of halal-ness of this future food, unnaturalness may appear as crucial element in Muslim’s perception to refuse the lab-grown meat. Since cultured meat is perceived as unnatural, therefore consumers often have doubts about its safety. Researchers, experts and producers should be aware to such fears and highlight clarity and transparency about the health and safety aspects of cultured meat as a key for industry sustainability.
As well known, health and safety concern among consumer has created an opportunity for food industry because it has the same importance with the concept of halalan tayyiban. Therefore, the producers and advocates should embrace this clear concept in the cultured meat industry. It is because, the concept of halal food is not complete and wholesome without being combined with the aspects of health, safety and nutrition. Therefore, halal food must also be safe for human consumption and has high nutrition values. This is in agreement with ayah 168, Surah al-Baqarah: “O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.”
Possible developments in food safety and nutrition currently have potential, but consumers perceive risks due to a perception of unnaturalness and breach of norms. The cultured meat producers and researchers should attempt to develop trust, encourage the understanding of new technology with Islamic principles and clarify how cultured meat could enhance performance in these disciplines. Besides, it is essential to understand how the lab-grown meat might interact with the important social and cultural challenges especially in Muslim community.
Unfortunately, the implications of the lab-grown meat for public health are still unknown, as it is a contemporary food product derived from synthetic technology. Hence, more research need to be done comprehensively to review the potential effects on health, economic, social and religion. In addition to address the technological challenges in the development and expansion of the production process, all producers and advocates of cultured meat industry must understand their relationship to a variety of social and cultural phenomena and institutions.