PETA vs. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream: would you eat frozen breast milk?

On September 23, 2008, 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 substitute cow’s milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk.

PETA organized over two million individuals who support their mission in persuading the company to change the use of human breast milk in their ice cream saying it would reduce the suffering of cows and calves and give ice cream lovers a healthier product.

The idea to use breast milk was developed by Hans Locher, a Swiss gastronomist and owner of restaurant Storchen, in the exclusive Winterthur resort, Switzerland. After announcing that he will serve meals cooked with human breast milk in September, the restaurant owner said he will revamp his menu of local specialties such as meat-stew, and other soups and sauces containing at least 75% of mother’s milk from human donors who are paid in exchange.

Locher stated that desirable dishes can be cooked with breast milk; however, the milk needs to be mixed with whipped cream in order to keep its consistency.

In PETA’s letter to Cohen and Greenfield, Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice President of PETA, expressed that, “using cow’s milk for ice cream is a hazard to a customer’s health. Dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies, constipation, obesity, and prostate and ovarian cancer.”

Although it has been proven by various doctors that breast-fed infants have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, and other medical problems than bottle-fed babies, there are 4,000 species of mammals, and they all make different milk. Human milk is made for human infants and not adult human consumption, according to Ruth Lawrence, M.D., professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in Rochester, N.Y., and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A mother’s milk and a cow’s milk are not interchangeable substances.

According to the National Dairy Council, a leader in nutrition research and education since 1915, ice cream and frozen yogurt are great ways for consumers to get high-quality protein, calcium, riboflavin (B2) and other essential vitamins and minerals.

“Ice cream is made by stirring, while freezing, a pasteurized mix of one or more dairy ingredients: milk, concentrated fat-free milk, cream, condensed milk, and other standard ice cream ingredients,” the National Dairy Council.

Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. strives on using nothing but the finest quality ingredients in their ice cream and receive all of their milk from cows in Vermont.

According to Ben & Jerry’s official website, their product mission promises to make, distribute and sell the finest quality all natural ice cream and euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the earth and the environment.

So far, most of the ice cream eating community has turned up their noses in the idea of using a mother’s milk in ice cream.

“I think the idea is just disgusting,” said Courtney Bunnell, a senior at Luzerne County Community College. “If Ben and Jerry actually passed this idea, I would go out and buy their original ice cream recipe in bulk because I wouldn’t want to eat ice cream with breast milk.”

“I don’t agree with the idea,” said Holly Peters, a sophomore occupational therapy major. “It’s just gross and I don’t see where you could get all that breast milk.”

Allison Martin, 19, is a sophomore who eats Ben & Jerry’s ice cream about three times a month. She said she understands PETA’s idea that breast milk is healthy, but doesn’t see herself ever consuming ice cream that was made of a mother’s milk.

Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Inc. feels the same.

“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,” said a spokesperson for Ben and Jerry’s.

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