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FSA goes Gaga over breast milk ice cream...

By Ben Bouckley, 01-Mar-2011

Related topics: Public Concerns

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is investigating whether a controversial ice cream made with donated breast milk, and sold in a London restaurant, breaches food safety regulations.

Covent Garden restaurant The Icecreamists has withdrawn its Baby Gaga ice cream, which it began selling last Thursday, from sale after several complaints to Westminster Council, which subsequently chose to investigate whether the ice cream was safe for human consumption.

The FSA then stepped in, and a spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk this morning: “Food businesses are legally obliged to ensure the food they serve is safe to consume. We understand that Westminster Council are investigating the sale of this ice cream product and we are liaising with their environmental health team over whether the product breaches food safety regulations.”

We understand that the FSA is clarifying where the ice cream fits under Article 14(1) of Regulation (EC) 178/2002, which requires that food shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe; Article 14(2) says food shall be deemed to be unsafe if it is considered to be: (1) injurious to health, and (2) unfit for human consumption.

Fill babies' bottles with Jack Daniels?

The Icecreamists owner Matt O'Conner was unimpressed by Westminster Council's actions, and told our sister site Bighospitality.co.uk that the milk used in the ice cream - from 15 mothers - was screened by a private clinic to hospital standards prior to sale, and that his firm had complied with all relvevant health and safety regulations:

“If we’re going to live in a society that’s absurd and insane enough to think it’s perfectly acceptable to drink alcohol that can kill you, or smoke yourself to death or take other drugs like amyl nitrate, which is perfectly legal to buy in Westminster, yet breast milk is seen as a danger to children, I say empty your babies’ bottles, fill them with Jack Daniels and give them to your kids,” he said.

But an industry source, who wished to remain anonymous, said that one argument advanced in favour of the ice cream - stating that if it is OK for babies to drink mother's milk then it is fine for humans to consume a product containing it - was slightly disingenous:

"That is a bit of a leap. Human breast milk that is donated to breast milk banks has to go through very rigorous screening as set out in NICE [National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence] guidelines, as breast milk can pass on things like hepatitis."