B. cereus: Paris suspends breast milk deliveries after two babies’ deaths

Supplies of breast milk for premature babies from Paris’s central milk bank have been suspended following the deaths of two babies. Tests are under way to establish the origin of the bacteria that caused the deaths.

o-breast-milk-bank-quebec-facebookSupplies of breast milk from Paris’s Necker hospital, which houses the region’s milk bank, were suspended “as a precautionary measure” on Saturday, following the infection of three babies with the Bacillus Cereus bacteria, which is common but can be dangerous for some premature children.

Two of the babies have died but the third has recovered.

Would you eat cheese made from your wife’s breast milk?

No, I wouldn’t. Wives are to be cherished, not treated like cows. I have five daughters and they were all breast-fed.

Breast milk is for babies, not food porn.

Daniel Angerer disagrees.

Gael Greene reported back in March how Angerer (sounds like a name Stephen Colbert made up) was serving customers cheese made from his wife’s breast milk.

Although the New York Health Department forbade the sale of Angerer’s breasty cheese, Greene secured and sampled some of the wares.

“Surprise. It’s not the flavor that shocks me—indeed, it is quite bland, slightly sweet, the mild taste overwhelmed by the accompanying apricot preserves and a sprinkle of paprika. It’s the unexpected texture that’s so off-putting. Strangely soft, bouncy, like panna cotta.”

Human milk bank uses pasteurization

From cream soup to cancer treatment, I discovered many interesting uses for surplus breast milk after learning that PETA requested Ben & Jerry’s use it to replace cow’s milk in ice cream products.

"Whatever floats your boat," I said, "as long as it’s pasteurized for the kiddos."

Probably, the most widely-accepted use for extra breast milk is as a supplement for nursing infants whose mothers are unable to produce enough safe breast milk to sufficiently feed them. Several human milk banks exist in the US for this purpose.

One such bank opened this week at the Portland Adventist Medical Center and has a plan in place to ensure the safety of all donations before use.

"We’ll do a blood screen on the moms who are going to donate," said Angel Pyles, a lactation nurse. "The milk is pasteurized and rescreened before given to babies who are in need of it."

Young children are one group whose health and well-being are most greatly affected by the culture around them. Those babies are lucky this organization recognizes that even a woman’s breast milk has risks that should be controlled.

Storing breastmilk: Conflicting advice

Doug, Sorenne and I are celebrating Sorenne’s one month birthday today with naps, laundry, and writing in every spare second. Yesterday we had a visit from the Healthy Start program representative which is part of the State of Kansas Health Department. Rachel weighed the baby who, with her clothes on, is now 11 lbs 15 oz. I have no concerns about her getting enough to eat. What does worry me, however, is how to keep track of the bottles of expressed breast milk in the refrigerator and whether temperature abuse is going to be an issue.

Breastfeeding has been tricky on numerous levels. Fortunately, storing breast milk is one of the few areas where I’ve found really conflicting advice. The most helpful book I purchased, The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins, only briefly covers milk storage stating in a chart that the limit is 72 hours in the refrigerator (p. 189). She contradicts herself elsewhere saying, “You can keep your milk for 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator or for up to three months in the freezer” (p. 104).

Huggins explains that fresh refrigerated milk is somewhat better than frozen because it retains more antibodies, but if you do freeze milk, it should be labeled with the date. Furthermore, “Milk cannot be refrozen or refrigerated after it has been thawed or warmed; whatever is left over after the feeding must be thrown out” (p. 104).

Huggins and multiple other sources discourage reheating milk in the microwave. While Huggins doesn’t explain, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that microwaves heat unevenly and may create dangerous hot spots that may burn the baby. In addition, Laura Jana and Jennifer Shu in Heading Home with Your Newborn say that the microwave destroys the protective antibodies found in breastmilk (p. 50).

In a section entitled “Focusing on Food Safety” Jana and Shu also encourage thorough handwashing and drying before preparing formula.

“Do not use prepared formula if it has been left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. Once you have fed your baby from a bottle, do not refrigerate the bottle in hopes of using it again later; bacteria from your baby’s mouth can multiply, even in the refrigerator. Be sure to discard any formula remaining in the bottle after 1 hour from the start of your baby’s feeding.” (p. 45)

I am unsure what the authors advise for breastmilk.

On the Lansinoh brand Breastmilk Storage Bags there is a chart indicating “How Long To Store Breastmilk”:

Where                                                                    Temperature                  Time

At Room Temperature                                            66-72 F (19-22 C)         10 hours
In a Refrigerator                                                     32-39 F (0-4 C)              8 days
In a Freezer Compartment inside a Refrigerator   Temperature varies        2 weeks
In a Freezer Compartment with a Separate Door  Temperature varies        3-4 Months
In a Separate Deep Freeze                                    0 F (-19 C)                     6 Months or longer

FDA’s advice comes from “Breastfeeding Made Easier at Home and Work” at womenshealth.gov and is almost identical. womenshealth.gov, however, gives a detailed breakdown of milk storage times at room temperature:

    * At 60 degrees F for 24 hours
    * At 66-72 degrees F for 10 hours
    * At 79 degrees F for 4-6 hours
    * At 86-100 degrees F for 4 hours

FDA also advises to make sure hands are clean and dry before handling milk, to store milk away from the door in the freezer “to avoid changes in temperature that may compromise the milk” and when you need to take the milk with you, “pack it in a cooler filled with ice. Do not leave the milk in a cooler for more than 24 hours.”

Here’s to many more healthy milestones for Sorenne.


Casey Jacob, guest barfblogger: What to do with breast milk?

Hans Locher of the Storchen restaurant in Switzerland, experienced “excellent results” in creating novel dishes utilizing his wife’s surplus breast milk after the birth of their daughter 35 years ago. Recently, he noticed several new mothers in his neighborhood and told the Swissinfo website, “One evening I thought that they must have a lot of extra breast milk that I could do something with." His recipe for Chantarelle sauce with breast milk and cognac can be found here.

Moms willing to experiment have also found good use for breast milk in cream soup, once its been bottled up for baby, but sat in the fridge to long to be considered “sterile.” The pot of cream of carrot shown here was reportedly sweeter than recipes using other milks.

Last November, the Associated Press reported that a young mom donated much of her breast milk that was pumped and immediately frozen (since her infant daughter refused to drink from a bottle) to the University of Iowa’s Mother’s Milk Bank.

Several human milk banks exist in the US, and benefit newborns whose mothers are unable to produce enough safe breast milk to sufficiently feed them, as well as a few adults who seek it out as a prescribed cancer treatment.

The Iowa mom hit a snag, though, when 100 ounces of the milk pumped before her enrollment in the program was not accepted as a donation. Therefore, she took out a newspaper ad asking $200 (equivalent to $16 per 8 oz. baby bottle, or $2 per each ounce) for its sale, after confirming that the state of Iowa held no laws against the sale of breast milk. A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Health was also not aware of any laws in Iowa restricting the sale of breast milk, but said that state health officials advised against it.

Mr. Loucher, who offered less than 50 cents per ounce, was threatened with lawsuits by his canton’s food regulatory body if he purchased human breast milk for his restaurant, because the product was not a registered or regulated food.

Of course, regulation does not ensure safety … but it might do more to encourage it.

Casey Jacob, guest barfblogger: Swiss restaurant barred from serving human breast milk

The Swiss restaurant hailed as the inspiration for PETA’s plea to Ben and Jerry’s to replace the cow’s milk in their ice cream with human breast milk is facing legal action if it continues with its plan to use breast milk purchased from new mothers in its soups and sauces.

The public was startled by Hans Loucher’s newspaper advertisements to new mothers to purchase their excess breast milk for $14.50/liter (or about $3.50 per 8oz. baby bottle) for use in his restaurant, the Storchen, whose name ironically refers to a stork in English.

“The mother’s milk is the most natural thing in the world – how can anyone be against it?” Mr. Loucher asked the Times Online. “I served the meals to my friends without telling them about the new ingredient and the feedback was excellent.”

Of course, being a “natural” food does not make it free of disease-causing microorganisms. It would be very difficult to regulate how the milk was handled before purchase by the restaurateur, and it is not likely he possesses the equipment necessary to pasteurize it before use.

Last week, as reported by the Times Online, the canton’s food regulatory body ruled that Mr. Locher would not be able to store the human milk properly nor guarantee that it was fresh and safe for consumption, since the product was not a registered or regulated food. Along with the Association of Swiss Milk Producers, Zurich’s food regulator has threatened lawsuits against Mr. Locher and anyone who provides human milk for his cause.


Casey Jacob, guest barfblogger: PETA wants human breast milk in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow’s milk used in their ice cream products with human breast milk.

"The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn’t make sense,"
said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a press release. "Everyone knows that ‘the breast is best,’ so Ben & Jerry’s could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk."

Whatever floats your boat, I guess… as long as it’s pasteurized for the kiddos. And, yes, evidence suggests that Ben and Jerry are fans of pasteurization.

A blog post in The PETA Files explains the inspiration behind their request. “Storchen, a (very innovative) restaurant in Switzerland, has just announced that they will be unveiling a new menu that includes soups, stews, and sauces made with at least 75 percent human breast milk,” blogged Carrie Ann Harris. “Some folks might think that drinking human breast milk is strange … but really, what’s even stranger is that humans are the only species on the planet that drinks the milk of another species.”

Ben and Jerry’s responded by saying, “We applaud PETA’s novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother’s milk is best used for her child.”