Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Human Breast Milk Ice Cream

Earlier this week, a London shop started selling ice cream made from human breast milk, cream, sugar and vanilla. It was called baby gaga, was served in a chilled martini glass and retailed for £14 GBP per serving. I use the word “was” because a few days after they started selling it, authorities in London confiscated the ice cream from the shop. They will run tests on the ice cream and determine if it’s safe for human consumption (you can read about it here: http://on.msnbc.com/fJdHAp). I think they’re taking a pause in order to consider if selling this ice cream is a good idea or not.

by dondur
This is the inevitable end to a stupid idea. Firstly, most STDs can be spread through breast milk. So can alcohol, drugs, and so on. Heck, I know a lot of mothers who couldn’t even eat curry while they were breastfeeding because their babies would balk at the flavour of their milk, or get smelly poos. What is the lifestyle of these mothers donating the milk? It’s not possible to know.

The integrity of the food chain is important. Food safety is important. Cows, goats and sheep live and give milk in a controlled environment. They’re raised to standards, their milk collected and stored in accordance to regulation. If one cow in a herd gets a serious, infectious disease, the whole herd is often put down in order to prevent contamination to humans (as many in Britain and Ireland know only too well). Humans are not put down when they get serious illnesses. They’re treated. Human lifestyles are not regulated.

Aside from food safety concerns, I have other issues with this ice cream. Mainly, I think human breast milk should be for human baby consumption. Not human adult consumption. Clearly, this ice cream served in a martini glass and priced at £14 per serving is for curious adults, not babies. There are women who have problems producing their own breast milk in sufficient quantities for their babies. They could benefit from the milk these women are selling to the ice cream parlour. There are breast milk banks that take donations, properly and thoroughly test it, before passing it on to women and babies in need. One great benefit of donating breast milk is to premature babies who don’t have a developed suck reflex. These babies could die from Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a condition where tissue in parts of the large intestine may start to die. Drinking breast milk instead of formula improves the outcomes for these babies. There are many conditions affecting babies (premature and otherwise) where outcomes can be improved by drinking breast milk. Mothers with excess breast milk could consider donating to help these babies.

Thinking through all this has raised issues for me regarding the use of cow’s milk. If mother’s milk is intended for human babies, isn’t cow’s milk intended for cow babies? Of course it is. Why do I drink it? Is it wrong to use cow’s milk? I care about animal welfare, too, and used to be a vegan. I gave all that up somewhere along the way and am now a total carnivore; glimpses of my former self shine through when I read stories like this, however, and think about cows giving their milk for human consumption. A blog post on animal welfare is for another day, though. For now, I’d just like to urge mothers to keep breast milk for babies.


  1. I just balked at it being called "Free range" and "Organic" - clearly The Icecreamists were bandying about these terms without actually understanding what they mean.

    I have no issue with drinking cow's milk though as drinking human milk is not an ethical issue for me. Yes, these women could have donated their milk to neonatal but I think they're within their rights to do pretty much whatever they want with it.

  2. I never tasted my own breast milk, despite being a committed omnivore, the idea always filled me with revulsion. The idea of paying £14 for the pleasure of drinking someone elses? You must be joking! Nothing against it, I'd just rather spend the money on a nice glass of prosecco!

  3. Wrong on every level! And who in their right minds would buy it???


  4. Adults drinking breast milk is weird. Humans drinking milk from any other species us weirder. The whole thing is spooky. Do people really need milk of any kind after a certain age? Except for maybe a soy chai latte. Ha.

  5. This whole breast milk ice-cream thing turns my stomach. Milk is produced by mammals to provide nourishment for babies. I have had to stick to a dairy free diet in recent years and have felt all the better for it.

  6. Good points.



  7. Interesting to see that there are no pro breast milk ice cream for the masses comments here so far!

  8. Just read this post today on Mamapedia. Have to say I'm firmly in the nay column. Just seems wrong to me to drink something meant for my babies. That said, I always thought it seemed far to watery. I can't imagine it would make very good ice cream. After all, ice cream is supposed to be thick and creamy. Great blog!

  9. Thanks for stopping by, Angie. I agree, it's too watery to make ice cream. They had to add cow cream to thicken it. So, cow and human milk in the same dish. Nice.


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