Would you eat breast milk ice cream? Should breast milk be shared?

A trendy London ice cream parlor introduced a new treat last Friday – ice cream made from human breast milk.

From The Associated Press:

“The Icecreamists, a trendy ice cream parlor, says its “Baby Gaga” ice cream sold out as soon as it launched Friday.”

“The company paid women who donated their breast milk after a health screening. The milk is then pasteurized and churned together with vanilla pods and lemon zest. The dish, which comes in a martini glass, sells for 14 pounds ($22.50) each.”

“Matt O’Connor, who owns the company, says the product is ‘organic, free-range and totally natural.’ ”

“The Food Standards Agency says there are no specific laws prohibiting businesses from selling human milk products, although they must comply with general food safety laws to ensure the product is safe for consumption.”

From NPR:

The case reminded me of the Eats on Feets campaign, which started out on Facebook after a breastfeeding mother sought ways to put her surplus milk to use. Teaming up with a like-minded activist, the movement has spread — and now includes Antarctica, according to the EoF Facebook page. Emma Kwasnica, one of the women behind Eats on Feets, was interviewed by NPR member station KOPN — for its Momma Rap program. (click “Podcasts” to hear the interview

The U.S. FDA is a bit leery of using “donor human milk.” On its website, it explains why:

“Risks for the baby include exposure to infectious diseases, including HIV, to chemical contaminants, such as some illegal drugs, and to a limited number of prescription drugs that might be in the human milk, if the donor has not been adequately screened. In addition, if human milk is not handled and stored properly, it could, like any type of milk, become contaminated and unsafe to drink.”

“Still, the FDA isn’t categorically against sharing breastmilk. It points people to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America as a good source of information and possible contacts.”

In fact the Human Milk Banking Association of North America is currently seeking milk donors to help medically fragile infants.

From Human Milk Banking Association of North America web site:

“February 11, 2011 ALERT
Milk Donors are URGENTLY NEEDED. If you have extra milk, please contact your nearest HMBANA milk bank. HMBANA milk banks process donated human milk primarily for fragile and vulnerable infants to ensure they have an adequate and safe supply of this life-giving and life-sustaining supplement when mother’s own milk is not available.

  • Setting the Standards for Human Milk Banking
  • Meeting the Milk Banking Needs for North America
  • A Safe Alternative in the Absence of Infant’s Own Mother’s Milk”

“HMBANA is a non-profit association of donor human milk banks established in 1985 to set standards for and to facilitate establishment and operation of milk banks in North America. This website provides information on milk banking and how to contact a milk bank to donate milk or to order donor human milk. This site is also a resource for health care providers and others seeking information on HMBANA’s resources and services. “

On January 20, 2011, U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin released The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Action 12 states, “Identify and address obstacles to greater availability of safe banked donor milk for fragile infants.”

The FDA Pediatric Advisory Committee endorsed donor human milk banking and deemed informal sharing of human milk to be unsafe. On December 6, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Pediatric Therapeutics convened a meeting of national experts, including directors of two HMBANA milk banks, to discuss the safety, ethics, and regulatory implications of donor human milk. See meeting agenda, briefing materials, and minutes on FDA website.”

This is really two separate issues that I have thrown together here because the ice cream  made a great introduction to the topic:

Issue No. 1: Would you as an adult or child (not an infant) eat a product made from breast milk?

Issue No. 2: Would you share your breast milk with a breast milk bank for medically fragile infants who need the milk to grow strong? Would you approve of other nursing mothers sharing their supply with other infants who need it?

In both instances the milk would be pasteurized and checked to make sure it does not contain disease (such as HIV). (I think it is a different case for a mom to pop someone’s else’s infant onto their boob and nurse them.)

I don’t think I personally would be into eating breast milk ice cream. I guess I just don’t see the point and think that breast milk could go to medically fragile infants instead of gourmet ice cream. (I have tasted my breast milk before when I was afraid a bottle had gone bad – turned a funny color. It just tasted sweet, which is what you always hear.)

I actually looked into donating breast milk when I was nursing my first child. The lactation consultant at Piedmont talked about but I couldn’t find where I could donate. I think it’s a great cause and it’s hard to pump a lot of milk so if a woman can do it’s truly a treasure. (Julie Duncan, the head of perinatal education and a lactation consultant at Piedmont Hospital, used to say breast milk is liquid gold!)

If for some reason I couldn’t nurse and had a medically fragile child I would absolutely try to get breast milk from a bank for my child.

So what do you think: Would you eat the ice cream?

Would you bank your milk to help other babies? Are you grossed out by babies drinking breast milk not from their mothers? (What if they don’t have mothers?)

31 comments Add your comment

Kt

February 28th, 2011
5:32 am

I had a medically fragile child and looked into getting her milk from milk bank. You know how much they charge PER OUNCE? $15-25. Yup. Women who were donating their milk, often times paying for the screenings themselves thinking they were helping sick babies and these comPanies are making a killing off the stuff.
As for th ice cream it’s definitely not something I’m interested in. I’m currently nursing my second baby and I’ve tasted my milk a few times but it’s not something i would eat. However if you look It up there are women who use their milk to make yogurt, ice cream, and I even read one site where she was using her milk to make breastmilk soap! To each their own I suppose…

CeCe

February 28th, 2011
6:04 am

No thank you, I’ll stick with good old fashioned moo juice ice cream!

DB

February 28th, 2011
7:29 am

I heard about the ice cream on the radio last week while I was driving, and almost gagged! That is definitely not something that I would be ordering!

I guess there’s no difference between donating breast milk and donating blood, so no, I don’t have a problem with it. *shrug*.

MomOf2Girls

February 28th, 2011
7:42 am

Just eww.

I tried to donate breast milk when I was pumping for my younger daughter. I was producing over 90 ounces per day, and had completely filled the 17 cu. ft. freezer purchased for that reason (as well as having it stored all over the neighborhood!). The hoops that I had to jump through meant that it just wasn’t worth the effort. This was 10 years ago, so I don’t remember exactly what they were, I just remember them being extremely onerous.

motherjanegoose

February 28th, 2011
7:42 am

1…NO
2…yes but I am too old now…I cried when I weaned mine and threw out several bottles of frozen milk that we needed to get out of the freezer. Not about giving up breastfeeding but about the time it took me to pump the milk with a manual pumper and then throwing it out!

Our dear neighbor in Texas was known to be a wet nurse about 70 years ago…yes that number is true…she passed away about 7 years ago. She was a fiesty size 6 but had plenty of milk.
She told me once that a Doctor sent a Dad over to get milk for her baby and he arrived, on her door step, with a gallon jug. She laughed and told him that she was a woman and not a cow…then handed him a jar of breastmilk straight from her refrigerator. The milk was not screened by anyone but was accepted. I am positive they did not have fancy electric pumps back then either.

I never tasted my milk…just did not think to do it.

A

February 28th, 2011
7:43 am

Lady Strange

February 28th, 2011
7:55 am

No, that’s just nasty in my opinion. I had an extremely hard time nursing my son, I would try again if I had another baby but that’s about as far as I’d go with it. I will stick with cow juice for my ice cream.

NoWay

February 28th, 2011
8:14 am

yeah, it makes much more sense to steal breast milk from a non-human animal. NOT!

RJ

February 28th, 2011
8:32 am

Ewwwww!!! That’s just too much! Breast milk is for your baby, not your food.

jarvis

February 28th, 2011
9:12 am

“Steal”?

Like the cow never saw it coming? Milk-jacked at gunpoint? Was fraudlently tricked into giving up the milk under false prentenses?

You know it’s a f’ing-cow, right?

kelley

February 28th, 2011
9:15 am

1. No way, sorry but plain old fashioned cow milk ice cream is all I want.
2. I donated over 300 ounces of breast milk when I was nursing my youngest son. My last 2 are under 2 years apart and I only weaned the older one when I became pregnant again. When my youngest was born my milk came in and was abundant the day after he was born. I donated to the Milk Bank at the University of North Carolina- we do not have a milk bank in Georgia. They sent me bags that connected straight to my pump and a large plastic cooler. When I had milk to donate they would send a prepaid FedEx overnight label and arrange a FedEx pickup, the last pickup of the afternoon. It was then overnighted to North Carolina and they had it delivered as the first delivery of the day- so it was still frozen when it arrived. The only thing I had to do to be approved was go have my OB/Gyn fill out and sign a form- which asked about my overall health and pregnancy, and my childrens pediatrician fill out and sign a form- they wanted to make sure my child would not suffer from my donating milk. I then had to go to LabCorp and have blood drawn- which they paid for. To me it was a very rewarding program- knowing that the extra milk I was producing was hopefully going to an infant in need vs being washed down the drain.

motherjanegoose

February 28th, 2011
9:16 am

LOL…daughter has a friend at UGA who is pre-vet. She went to learn how to milk a cow last week.
A 3:00 a.m. session. I spoke with her and she told me “EEEWWW…there was cow poop everywhere.”
Yep, the cows do not know how to hold it if the environment includes a girl who has never stepped in a cow patty.

lemonchiffon

February 28th, 2011
9:18 am

It seems so selfish to make a “gourmet treat” out of what could be used to help feed children of mothers who cannot afford a nutritious diet in order to produce their own milk in third world countries. We are the epitome of shallowness and self-centeredness in this country.

motherjanegoose

February 28th, 2011
9:22 am

@ lemon…I see your point but how quickly can we get the breastmilk milk here to third world countries and how efficiently. Would it not be cheaper to send nutritious food?

Is this not like when I was a girl, my mom would say:

“You need to clean your plate…there are kids starving in Africa.”

I guess I am missing something …anyone?

jarvis

February 28th, 2011
9:23 am

@lemonchiffon, unless you’re British, you need to re-read the story.

FCM

February 28th, 2011
9:34 am

Didn’t feed my babies breastmilk why would I buy this?

Cammi317

February 28th, 2011
9:48 am

(1) No and I think that I am about to lose my breakfast; (2) I’m kind of a hypocrite on this one. I would have never introduced someone else’s breast milk to my child (I have no way of knowing what someone else has ingested and is being secreted through their milk), but I would not have had a problem donating mine, of which I had an abundance, if someone really needed it.

Tad Jackson

February 28th, 2011
9:52 am

My mother made me and my sisters drink Tang. Remember that stuff? That was 1960s Austell, Georgia if that helps. Anyhow, we still love her!

http://www.adixiediary.com

Dane Nutty - Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank

February 28th, 2011
10:12 am

As a member of the HMBANA milk banking network, I am glad to see the mostly positive comments regarding human milk banking. I would like to note that there is one comment that stands out and we get ALL the time…mostly due to a lack of knowledge about the entire process. @Kt, I appreciate your concerns, but you have been given the wrong information. The most that is charged per ounce in the HMBANA banks is around $6 (we charge $4.50). You must understand the very rigorous screening that we put our moms through (all at our expense completely). Then, we must pasteurize, analyze, nutritionally-screen, label, and distribute to hospitals throughout the country. This entire process is very costly, and thus the processing fee we charge is an attempt to offset these costs. I can assure you that HMBANA milk banks operate as non-profits to the definition, and we are in no way making profits from the generous donation our mothers make. If anyone has any further questions, feel free to check us out on Facebook or email me at dnutty@immb.org. Thanks!

iRun

February 28th, 2011
10:17 am

I’ve always thought it was funny how people get grossed out by human milk but are more than happy to drink the body fluid of a cow. I guess it’s (1) a bit too intimate for most people’s sensibilities to consider drinking human milk, and (2) cow milk is so far removed from the cow that it’s no different than buying orange juice…you just reach in the cooler and grab a gallon of it.

But, sure…I’d try icecream made of human milk, and, again, yes I think human milk banks are a great idea and the idea of sharing seems fine. They do it elsewhere in the world all the time. Not to mention it wasn’t all that long ago in this country and Britain it was standard practice for wealthy women to hire a wetnurse. Actually, I bet they still do it.

It’s just milk.

JATL

February 28th, 2011
10:23 am

Puke! Why in God’s name would I eat breast milk ice cream when there are any number of fantastic flavors of regular ice cream everywhere? I think it’s great to donate your breastmilk if you have an abundance, and I don’t think that’s terribly weird for infants, but once you’re NOT a baby/toddler -it’s just gross. Since I’m not a big milk fan of any variety, I guess this just really sickens me.

@DB -I guess I look at blood as a life-saving situation (although it skeezes me out if I think too much about it -it’s still a life/death scenario, so that’s different for me -that and the fact that you don’t ingest the blood through your mouth and taste it -ewwww).

Oh well -no breastmilk for me! Now the salted caramel ice cream at Morelli’s -THAT is the stuff of fantasy!

NoWay

February 28th, 2011
10:38 am

Yes, Jarvis. I know it’s a cow. Cows can’t give “consent” so, yes, it’s stealing. If you (or any adult on here) were meant to consume milk your mother would still be lactating.

penguinmom

February 28th, 2011
10:43 am

@jarvis – LOL!

1 – no way. Never even tried my own, certainly wouldn’t want someone else’s.
2 – I think banking breast milk is an excellent idea to allow infants who need the boost to get it. I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding enough (other than the weight loss benefits with my youngest) to want to do that but kudos to any women who do want to help out that way.

jarvis

February 28th, 2011
11:11 am

And if we were “meant” to fly, we’d have been born with wings? Is that your argument?

JATL

February 28th, 2011
1:08 pm

@NoWay -and I suppose if we were “meant” to consume fruits and vegetables they would naturally be growing in all of our backyards with no care or cultivation from us? What is your take on meat? Humans were obviously meant to be carnivores since our earliest history contains quite a bit of hunting and meat eating, but if you think milking a cow is “stealing” from it, then I can only imagine what you think of slaughtering an animal to eat it.

☺☻ Black & white smiley faces

February 28th, 2011
1:44 pm

I’ve always preferred milk “fresh from the tap” :)

Lisa

February 28th, 2011
1:44 pm

I agree with those who said, “Ew-w-w-www.” But then again, I am a female. I can see this type of gourmet treat being sold at bachelor parties to the mainly male clientele at, say, Rachel’s Steakhouse.

LookinForNourishment

February 28th, 2011
2:27 pm

I hear it’s served in a cup; a D-cup no less.

M

February 28th, 2011
4:41 pm

YUCK.YUCK.YUCK.YUCK.YUCK,YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK! The world’s a SICK FREAKING PLACE NOW!!!

Rectal Bleeding

February 28th, 2011
8:29 pm

Could you stop with these messed up subjects. The tampon one made me ill and now I see this.

Woman, you have problems.

tracey

March 1st, 2011
3:01 pm

i don’t think i would like to eat this icecream. but, i would have donated if it had been an easier process back when my kids were little.