Breast Milk Ice Cream?

From the BBC: Breast milk ice cream goes on sale in Covent Garden

A restaurant in London’s Covent Garden is serving a new range of ice cream, made with breast milk.

The dessert, called Baby Gaga, is churned with donations from London mother Victoria Hiley, and served with a rusk and an optional shot of Calpol or Bonjela…
“Some people will hear about it and go yuck – but actually it’s pure organic, free-range and totally natural.”

And, we could add, its production should please animal welfare and animal rights advocates, since it involves no indentured servitude on the part of animals.

My question, here, is roughly the same as my question about synthetic meat: beyond the “yuck” factor, is there any actual ethical objection to eating ice cream made with human milk?

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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1 Response to Breast Milk Ice Cream?

  1. This is a rather puzzling one., and I don’t have any sort of clear answer myself at this point.

    I suspect that if we explore the “yuck factor”, we might find some morally relevant features of the question, but I have yet to carry through that line of thought (I definitely have that reaction, though).

    I started thinking about ethical perspectives from which there could be some objections to it, and couldn’t come up with very much. If one were to think about the function of breast milk in nourishing one’s children, in providing them with health-conducing antibodies, nutrients, and the like (one reason for the superiority accorded to breastfeeding over providing formula), and as a means promoting bonding, I suppose that from an ethics of care perspective or from a natural law perspective, some objections might be raised — but when I think them through, they seem to fall apart.

    For instance, one might say at first: one’s breast milk is for one’s child, not for other things — not its function. But then, what of the longstanding practice of wetnursing? There seems nothing objectionable about that. If there is a surplus of breast milk then what would be wrong in it being used for other purposes?

    One might then say: Well, it should be used for other babies then — not used in frivolous manners, as in making ice cream for adults, or say, painting fences (though I suspect milk of any sort would make bad paint). And there, one might have one’s finger on a possible objection — if there is a right use, a function for breast milk, nourishing and conducing to health of infants is at the center of it. Given that there are many infants who could be given that breast milk — putting aside issues of distribution and other ones that might crop up — it could be objected that any surplus breast milk should first go to them, and then only afterward to trendy, experimental, commercial projects like making ice cream which will be consumed largely by adults.

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